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    Initial pretrial conference in Whiteplume v. Riverton Police Department case to take place this week

    (Riverton, WY) – The initial pretrial conference for the case of former Detective Billy Whiteplume vs the Riverton Police Department (RPD) has been set for June 12, according to federal Court documents filed on May 10.

    The hearing will take place before the Honorable Judge Alan B. Johnson.

    It was reported back in April that Whiteplume, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, is suing RPD for racial discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment, according to a complaint and request for jury trial document filed on April 22.

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    Whiteplume seeks damages including but not limited to: “back pay, restored benefits, actual monetary damages, loss of wages, salary, retirement contributions, all loss of income, all loss of monetary damages, as well as compensatory damages for emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, future monetary losses and all loss of compensatory damages,” as well as various Court fees.

    Whiteplume is also seeking the “implementation of policies and procedures by Defendants to prevent future unlawful employment practices.”

    On May 22, 2024, counsel for all parties met and conferred to consider the issues for this report, and in preparation for the upcoming initial pretrial conference.

    The Riverton Police Department responded to Whiteplume’s claims in a defendant’s answer and affirmative defenses document filed on May 10, which generally denies the allegations in the complaint.

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    That response document states that the “Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; that Plaintiff did not suffer any adverse employment action; that Defendants exercised reasonable care to prevent, or promptly correct any allegedly discriminatory behavior of its employees; estoppel; waiver; proximate cause; failure to exhaust the administrative remedies; and, that no act of Defendants was malicious, willful or wanton.”

    The response document concludes by stating that the “Defendants respectfully request that the Plaintiff’s Complaint and Request for Jury Trial, and the claims for relief stated therein, be dismissed with prejudice, Defendants be allowed their costs, including reasonable attorney fees, and for such other and further relief as the Court deems appropriate.”

    As mentioned above, RPD denied most every allegation outright by stating they “assert that the paragraph contains legal conclusions to which no response is required” and “to the extent a response is required, the Defendants deny the allegations,” or they replied that they “are without sufficient knowledge to admit or deny the allegations contained therein, and therefore deny the same.”

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    RPD admitted or agreed to parts of some of the allegations, namely in reference to interactions Whiteplume alleged to have with one of RPD’s Student Resource Officers.

    Whiteplume’s allegations state that in December of 2022, the SRO “picked up a pen on Mr. Whiteplume’s desk and began banging the pen on a peanut can in a drumming motion,” that the drumming motion was “virtually the same motion used by the Native American people in a tradition in which Mr. Whiteplume participates as a Native American,” and that the SRO then asked Mr. Whiteplume, “Is this why you have this?”

    In response to these specific allegations RPD denied that the SRO picked up the pen and “engaged in a drumming motion,” but admitted that SRO asked “Is this why you have this?”

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    During the alleged interaction, Whiteplume stated that he told the SRO to leave his office after stating “Are you for real?” and that he had to ask the SRO to leave his office a second time.

    The RPD response admitted that Whiteplume said “Are you for real?” and asked the SRO to leave his office, but denied that he was asked a second time.

    Ultimately, the RPD’s Affirmative Defenses stated that “the Plaintiff’s Complaint fails in whole or in part to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,” and they also reserved their “right to amend these pleadings to assert any further or additional affirmative defenses that discovery in this case discloses.”

    The initial pretrial conference will take place this Wednesday, June 12.

    County 10 will continue to provide updates on the case as it progresses.

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