Casper, WY – A hero officer who was shot at least four times in a gunfight with a sovereign citizen in May has been ordered to return to work against advice from his doctors.
Casper Police Officer Jacob Carlson told the Casper Star-Tribune that all of his doctors have said he should be declared fully disabled.
Officer Carlson said one doctor told him that there was a possibility his condition would improve to a partial disability, but said it would take at least a year to get there.
But despite the fact the 27-year-old, 3-year veteran of the police department was injured in the line of duty just three months ago and required more than 100 units of blood to survive, Officer Carlson said Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters called him into his office on Aug. 14 to tell him that he needed to return to work the next day, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.
At that point, Officer Carlson said he told Chief McPheeters that he was considering taking a medical retirement, but that he would like to return to the department part-time to supplement the reduced income he would be earning.
But the wounded officer told the Casper Star-Tribune that the chief said part-time wasn’t an option.
“Disability only covers 60 percent of his income. Should an officer receive a 40 percent pay cut for being shot?” Carlson’s attorney, Don Fuller, asked in a letter he sent to Chief McPheeters that the chief claimed not to have seen when contacted by the Casper Star-Tribune.
Officer Carlson was shot twice in the legs and once in the lower abdomen during the May 6 gun battle with 38-year-old David Wolosin. He was also hit by rounds that were partially stopped by his vest.
The incident began after police received a call that Wolosin was allowing children – one as young as three years old – to drive a motor vehicle in a vacant dirt lot.
Dashcam footage, which did not include audio, showed an officer traveling into the parking lot, where a white car was moving in reverse.
The vehicle stopped as Casper Police Officer Randi Garrett walked down and made contact with Wolosin in the front passenger seat. Then Wolosin stepped out of the vehicle, and appeared to be focused on something in his hand.
Fuller said that Wolosin, who “fancied himself as a sovereign” and didn’t recognize the authority of the government, refused to speak to speak with the officer, and that he instead made a phone call, the Casper Star Tribune reported.
Officer Carlson arrived at the scene a moment later, and joined Wolosin and Officer Garrett near the parked vehicle.
The dashcam video showed Wolosin immediately moved towards the rear portion of the car, and began shooting at the officers.
The officers rushed to back away, and Officer Carlson collapsed to the ground before they both found cover behind Wolosin’s vehicle, and returned fire.
Wolosin was fatally shot during the gunfight, but the two children inside his vehicle were uninjured, police said.
Officer Carlson was rushed to a local hospital with “life threatening injuries,” the Casper Star Tribune reported.
The pain was so intense that Officer Carlson told the Casper Star-Tribune that he remembered yelling at the doctors to cut off his legs. His heart actually stopped five times during one of the operations to save him.
The wounded hero was treated for a shattered pelvis, a severed artery in his pelvic area, infections, and nerve damage for more than a month at the Wyoming Medical Center.
Since his release, he’s attended physical therapy twice a week and still has not recovered full movement of his left foot. He has trouble walking on uneven ground, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.
Officer Carlson said that initially, Chief McPheeters was supportive and that they had friendly conversations about how to start him back to work at just a few hours a day.
Chief McPheeters awarded Officer Carlson a Purple Heart and a Medal of Valor on July 30 at an emotional ceremony attended by more than 1,000 citizens, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. The chief called Officer Carlson’s survival “miraculous” at the event.
But then 15 days later, the chief called the wounded officer into his office and told him that he needed to return to work the next day or take sick leave, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.
However, Officer Carlson’s doctors said there was no way the officer was ready to be medically cleared to return to work.
“Due to the severity of his injuries, he has numerous doctors,” Fuller wrote. “They all unanimously agree that Jake should not be cleared for work. The doctors say he may never be able to return to duties, and if he does, it will be at least a year away.”
Officer Carlson told the Casper Star-Tribune that he felt like the chief hadn’t given him enough time to recover from the on-duty injuries.
After he was shot, the officer’s main goal was to return to the police department, even if only in a partial capacity. His treatment by the department has made him reconsider.
“I don’t even want to be around it anymore,” he told the Casper Star-Tribune.
When the chief told the newspaper that he had not yet seen the letter from Officer Carlson’s attorney and therefore could not comment, the reporter offered to send him a copy. The chief refused the offer.