Rawlins pays more than $900,000 in settlement for police shooting




The city of Rawlins agreed to pay $925,000 to the family of a man shot and killed by Rawlins police in 2015, according to a statement issued by the dead man’s family.


The settlement stems from a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by the family of John R. Veach, of Fort Collins, Colorado, against the agency and two of its employees, Sgt. Jared Frakes and Officer Joe Balestrieri.


According to the Tuesday afternoon statement, dash camera footage shows Frakes and Balestrieri were not in danger on Dec. 30, 2015, when they shot Veach as he tried to drive away from a traffic stop near a Rawlins gas station. Uinta County Attorney Loretta Howieson, the prosecutor assigned the case, in March 2016 ruled the shooting justified and declined to bring charges against the two policemen.


“Sergeant Frakes and Officer Balestrieri took the law into their own hands, serving as judge, jury, and executioner. Mr. Veach should still be alive,” David Lane, one of three civil rights attorneys representing the family, said in the written statement. “The killing of John Veach is a stain on the entire Rawlins Police Department.”


In November 2017, the family’s attorneys filed a lawsuit against the city and officers, alleging the police officers violated Veach’s constitutional rights when they shot him. The attorneys also alleged officers tried to fabricate a cover story while performing CPR on Veach in the parking lot. The police department had failed to properly train, supervise or discipline the two officers, the attorneys stated in their lawsuit.


The case had been scheduled to go to trial in April of this year. However, on March 28, attorneys for the family, the police officers and the city filed a joint request to stay the trial, pending the finalization of a settlement.


On May 8, the same attorneys filed a request for Judge Scott Skavdahl to dismiss the case. The same day, the judge did so.


“The officers’ initial version of events diverged wildly from what the video revealed to be the truth,” attorney Qusair Mohamedbhai said in the statement. “Without the video evidence, it is likely that the family of John Veach would never have received justice for their enormous loss.”


Matthew Cron, who practices law in the same office as Mohamedbhai, also represented the family in the case.


Attorneys representing the city and officers could not be reached Tuesday evening.




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