Casper Man Denies Shooting at State Trooper During Pursuit
The man accused of leading law enforcement on a chase on U.S. 20/26 and shooting at a state trooper west of Casper last month has pleaded not guilty to several felony charges.
During his arraignment Thursday morning before District Judge Catherine Wilking, 46-year-old Zachery Whiteman pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to cause bodily injury to a peace officer, possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent and two counts of aggravated assault.
Whiteman, who remained seated in a wheelchair and was wearing a neck brace, could face up to 35 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
Charging papers say that shortly after 10 p.m. on April 22, a Mills police officer saw a 2005 Chevrolet Avalanche commit several traffic violations on West Yellowstone Highway near Poison Spider Road. The officer tried to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle, but the Avalanche -- driven by Whiteman -- accelerated and took off westbound on U.S. 20/26.
A Natrona County Sheriff's Deputy joined the Mills officer in pursuit, and they later requested assistance from the Wyoming Highway Patrol. Two troopers assumed the pursuit -- Adam Brunning took the lead, with Clint Christensen following as a secondary vehicle.
Whiteman's driving was reportedly erratic throughout the chase. Charging papers say he nearly hit several other vehicles. So, Trooper Brunning attempted what's known as a tactical vehicle intervention -- a maneuver in which an officer uses their vehicle to contact the suspect vehicle in order to stop the suspect.
While attempting that maneuver, Whiteman allegedly reached out of his window with a handgun and fired two shots at Brunning. The bullets were later found to have hit the driver's side of Whiteman's Avalanche, missing Brunning.
Brunning tried a second tactical vehicle intervention. This time, the maneuver worked, and Whiteman lost control of his vehicle. The Avalanche rolled several times along the south side of the highway near mile marker 37. Whiteman was thrown from the vehicle during the crash.
Officers at the scene offered medical treatment to Whiteman, who had to be flown by helicopter to Wyoming Medical Center.
In the area of the wrecked Avalanche, Trooper Christensen found a black .40-caliber handgun. Ammunition for the weapon was also found in the debris field.
Special agents of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation interviewed the troopers involved and reviewed dashcam video. That video corroborated statements made by the troopers, according to the affidavit.
The following day, agents interviewed Whiteman at Wyoming Medical Center. Whiteman allegedly said he had been arguing with his girlfriend before the incident took place and was headed to Riverton to confront her.
Whiteman allegedly admitted that he fired the handgun, but could not explain his reasoning.
Whiteman's girlfriend, whose name is not included in the affidavit, reportedly told a special agent that she had been considering ending her relationship with Whiteman on April 22. Whiteman reportedly told her in a phone call that he was suicidal, had a gun and was on his way to see her.
She was concerned to the point where she asked a relative to come to her house with a gun, in case Whiteman showed up.
Whiteman remained in custody on $50,000 bond at the time of Thursday's arraignment.