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Police vehicles sit in the basement garage on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 at the Cheyenne Police Department in downtown Cheyenne. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Cheyenne Police say they have determined that Benjamin Ketcham shot Aaron Briggs in self-defense May 22 inside a room at the The Lariat Motel.

As a result, police and the Laramie County District Attorney’s Office have decided to dismiss a charge of second-degree murder that was pending against Ketcham, 31, of Cheyenne.

According to a news release sent by police Friday evening, between Saturday, May 23, and Wednesday, May 27, detectives interviewed multiple witnesses and examined multiple pieces of evidence collected as a result of two search warrants executed in Cheyenne and the autopsy of Briggs in Fort Collins, Colorado. Video was also reviewed from The Lamp Lounge and surrounding businesses.

According to the release, at around 11 p.m. May 22, CPD officers responded to The Lamp Lounge at 101 W. Sixth St., regarding a man – later identified as Briggs, 36, of Cheyenne – who entered that location and was bleeding from his upper body. Briggs collapsed and was taken to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center for treatment. Briggs was declared dead by attending medical staff at around 11:45 p.m.

The investigation determined that earlier in the day, Briggs arrived at The Lariat Motel, room No. 7, under the influence of alcohol and became aggressive with Ketcham and others present in the motel room. Ketcham was one of the current residents of the motel room.

Briggs was told to leave the motel room and ultimately did so. Later that evening, Briggs returned to the room, and began to threaten and intimidate Ketcham and others. Briggs was carrying a large metal chain he wore looped over both shoulders, according to the release. Briggs was again told to leave the room and refused to do so. Ketcham, who was on the bed, stood up and pulled out his handgun and told Briggs to leave.

Briggs, upon seeing Ketcham holding the gun, removed the chain from his neck and swung it at Ketcham. As Briggs swung the chain at Ketcham, Ketcham raised the handgun and fired one shot, striking Briggs in the upper torso. Following the gunshot, Briggs ran to The Lamp Lounge, according to police.

While Wyoming law provides for immunity for an individual who exercised reasonable force in self-defense, it is only available under certain, narrow, factual circumstances. Police indicated in their release that after a through investigation, and in collaboration with the DA’s office, they determined self-defense applied in this case.

Ketcham had been previously arrested by CPD in July 2018 for fleeing/eluding, not stopping for police, reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, not having liability insurance and on a warrant for failure to appear.

He was arrested in April 2019 for misdemeanor possession of a methamphetamine-type drug and misdemeanor possession of a cocaine/heroin-type drug.

 

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