Jackson police officers are investigating an incident involving an off-duty Colorado officer who pulled her gun on a teen who was running to a bus stop.
The unusual incident happened just before noon Friday near the corner of Snow King Avenue and Flat Creek Drive.
After receiving a report of a possible armed robbery, multiple officers rushed to the scene where a woman was holding a young man on the ground at gunpoint.
“She was driving by and heard a loud noise and thought something was suspicious and got out to check it out,” Jackson Police Lt. Roger Schultz said.
“Then she saw someone running from the scene, and she believed a crime was taking place and intervened and called law enforcement. She held who she believed to be a suspect of a crime until we arrived.”
But after questioning the people involved and other witnesses, officers decided the whole thing was a misunderstanding and that the woman, who happens to be an off-duty police officer from Colorado, may have overreacted.
The 17-year-old said he was running from his house to the bus stop after forgetting his phone charger, reports state.
“This kid wasn’t actually committing a crime,” Schultz said.
Now police are trying to decide if the 31-year-old off-duty cop overstepped her bounds enough to be charged with a crime.
“Wyoming law allows for a citizen’s arrest but only under limited circumstances,” Schultz said.
The woman’s authority to arrest people in Colorado doesn’t give her the right to act as an officer in Wyoming, Schultz said, unless a felony is committed in her presence or if death is likely.
“If I go to Cheyenne, I have no authority there to contact someone for theft or burglary or speeding,” Schultz said.
“When you leave your jurisdiction or state, you need to act as a private citizen,” he said.
Another exception is if an officer is specially deputized by the sheriff’s office where their assistance is requested.
It’s believed the off-duty Colorado officer was here vacationing.
She hasn’t been charged with a crime.
“We’ve already interviewed and released her,” Schultz said. “We don’t feel like she’s a threat to the public.”
But police are still investigating the circumstances, and charges are possible.
“If she has overstepped, the likely charges would be aggravated assault, which comes into play because of the weapon involved,” Schultz said. “The second charge would be felonious restraint.”
While it’s legal for a citizen to make an arrest under certain circumstances in Wyoming, it isn’t encouraged.
“I don’t recommend the public or private persons make citizen’s arrests,” Schultz said.
“It’s generally ill-advised and dangerous for them to do. They should allow police officers who are trained to handle those situations,” he said.
The woman’s name was not available for release by press time.
The 17-year-old, although found to be wrongly targeted, was cited for possession of a controlled substance.