Former detective files lawsuit against the Riverton Police Department

    (Riverton, WY) – Former Detective Billy Whiteplume is suing the Riverton Police Department (RPD) for racial discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment.

    Whiteplume, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, seeks a jury trial, monetary compensation, and judgment in his favor, according to court documents filed on April 22 in Wyoming District Court.

    The former detective was employed with RPD from February 2016 through December 8, 2022, and resigned due to their “discriminatory actions and harassment.”


    Court documents state that Whiteplume was “subjected to racial slurs from his supervisors and fellow subordinates and harassed about his race and race-related cultural beliefs and practices.”

    In one incident, Whiteplume alleges that he witnessed RPD discriminate against a Native American male in early January 2022.

    “The incident involved the Department releasing a Native American male, wearing only his underwear, into snowing/sleeting, freezing weather.” 

    Following the observed incident, Whiteplume complained to his direct Supervisor about the discrimination against the Native American male. To his knowledge, say the court documents, nothing was reportedly done to address what happened.


    In another incident referenced in the suit, later in early 2022, the former RPD Chief, who has since retired, reportedly approached Whiteplume with a suggestion of contacting the Northern Arapaho Business Council so a meeting between them, Riverton’s Mayor, the City Administrator, and the Chief could occur.

    The meeting happened, and a dialogue began between the government entities.

    The former detective says he was verbally reprimanded by his Supervisor for coordinating the meeting.


    The lawsuit documents state that Whiteplume says he was reprimanded on other occasions as well, including for “inciting panic” when he says he alerted RPD that a “dangerous individual” had escaped the Wyoming Correctional Facility. And again “for taking all day to help the homeless/transient Native American population and neglecting all his duties.”

    The lawsuit documents state that the later reprimand alleged that he was helping the unhoused and transient Native American population on the Department’s time rather than his own personal time. Whiteplume says he viewed the work “as part of his public outreach role as a member of the Department.”

    A meeting about the topic was held and it became “hostile and demeaning” to Whiteplume, according to the lawsuit. He viewed RPD’s “discipline against him for his work with the homeless/transient Native American population as discriminatory and retaliatory,” court documents continue. 


    The complaint goes on to say that he continued to be verbally reprimanded and criticized by his Supervisor and Captain without legitimate reasons, creating a hostile work environment for him, and he feared being fired at any moment.

    About a month after the aforementioned incident, an RPD School Resource Officer picked up a pen on Whiteplume’s desk and reportedly began “banging” it on a peanut can in a drumming motion. 

    The drumming motion mimicked that used by Native Americans in a tradition in which Whiteplume participates as a Native American, according to the lawsuit. 

    “Is this why you have this?” asked the SRO.  

    Viewing this conduct and language as offensive, Whiteplume reportedly requested the SRO leave his office.

    This interaction was reported to his Supervisor, but nothing was done, according to Whiteplume.

    He made additional requests that the incident be documented and also met with the SRO’s Supervisor and then, finally, the HR Director, says the lawsuit complaint.

    Whiteplume viewed the department’s lack of action as creating an intolerable working environment by subjecting him to a discriminatory and hostile work environment and he gave his two weeks’ notice. 

    The court document says that Whitelplume, not feeling safe at work, was told by the HR Director that he could work his last two weeks at home and file a grievance.

    His supervisor reportedly informed Whiteplume that the Captain did not want him to work on his cases at night but to close them in the office.

    “This directive made Mr. Whiteplume uncomfortable because he would have to be around people who made him uncomfortable,” the lawsuit says. It then lists his Supervisor, the SRO, the HR Director, and the Captain. 

    The Captain reportedly called him the next day and left a message that he needed to return to work or would not be paid. He did not return to work because he “did not feel safe because the hostile work environment was increasing in severity.”

    County 10 contacted current RPD Chief Eric Hurtado, who said, “With any litigation, all statements must be made through our City Attorney’s office.”

    Riverton City Attorney Rick Sollars, said he doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

    The lawsuit lists three claims for relief: retaliation, race discrimination and hostile work environment. He is being represented by Stanbury & Strike PC.

    Whiteplume is asking the Court for the following:

    • A jury trial.
    • To find RPD in violation of federal law.
    • To award him back pay, restored benefits, actual monetary damages, loss of wages, salary, retirement contributions, all loss of income, and all loss of monetary damages.
    • To award him emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, future monetary losses, and all loss of compensatory damages.  
    • To award him reinstatement, or in the alternative, front pay.
    • Attorney fees and costs.
    • Pre-judgment and post-judgment interest.
    • To direct RPD to take such affirmative relief steps as are necessary to ensure the effects of the department’s “unlawful employment practices” are eliminated and do not continue.
    • To award him all other legal and equitable relief.   

    County 10 will continue to provide updates on this lawsuit as it progresses.


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