Casper Police Chief Keith McPheeters on 9/21/23 (Gregory Hirst, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — A federal judge has ordered a mediation hearing in the case of two former Casper police detectives who have sued police chief Keith McPheeters and the City of Casper over allegations of sexual harassment and workplace retaliation by another former detective.

Plaintiff Shannon Daley had retired by the time the federal complaint was filed last October, and Keri Patrick left the CPD earlier this year. 

The plaintiffs say that McPheeters and the city were effectively indifferent to persistent and inappropriate sexual commentary by then-CPD Detective Chase Nash. They are claiming damages including emotional distress, pain and suffering and mental anguish.

According to the complaint, Nash was the subject of an internal investigation prompted by other officers, who had noted that his alleged conduct was noticed by personnel outside the department.

The plaintiffs say Nash erroneously ascribed the launch of the investigation to them, and that he went on a campaign of retaliation, filing frivolous complaints against them and ignoring operational protocols, according to the complaint. They said Nash’s conduct put in jeopardy key evidence in a CPD case that went to federal trial. 

Nash was placed on administrative leave in January 2022 until he retired that June, according to the filing.

McPheeters’s attorney filed to dismiss the suit, saying the plaintiffs failed to state valid claims of constitutional violations, and that McPheeters, in his individual capacity, is entitled to qualified immunity. 

The case is being tried before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Kelly H. Rankin in Cheyenne. He ordered the parties to appear for a mediation hearing on Oct. 25.

To avoid the time, cost and stress of the trial process, “the Court believes the parties should fully explore and consider settlement at the earliest opportunity,” Judge Rankin wrote.  

Even if a resolution could not be reached at the hearing, the issues of fact and law could be refined in advance of trial, currently set for May 2024.

Both sides are ordered to exchange written settlement proposals, and if a resolution if not reached, the proposals themselves are to be submitted directly to the judge.