AP NEWS

Omaha on trial in shooting death of ‘Cops’ crew member

February 21, 2019
FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2014 frame grab from security video showing an armed robbery at a Wendy's restaurant in Omaha is displayed during a news conference at police headquarters in Omaha, Neb. The City of Omaha is on trial in the fatal shooting by police of a television crew member who worked on the law enforcement show "Cops." Sound technician Bryce Dion was killed in August 2014 when police responded to an armed robbery in an Omaha restaurant. A lawyer for Dion's family said Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019 that officers fired at robbery suspect Cortez Washington as many as 39 times. One of those bullets inadvertently hit Dion. (Omaha Police via AP)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha police used justifiable force when firing dozens of bullets at an armed robbery suspect in a fast-food restaurant and had no duty to protect a law enforcement reality television show crew member who was inadvertently shot and killed, the police chief said.

Bryce Dion, 38, who was a sound technician on “Cops,” was on a ride-along with Omaha police officers in August 2014 when he was killed, The Omaha World-Herald reported.

His family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the City of Omaha, accusing the police of negligence and using excessive deadly force.

In court Wednesday, Christian Williams, a lawyer for Dion’s family, said the suspect, Cortez Washington, was clearly a threat to officers when they fired on him as many as 39 times.

But, he said, officers fired around two dozen additional shots even as Washington was running from the restaurant, and that one of those bullets inadvertently hit Dion, who was standing in the entrance to the restaurant.

The bullet slipped through a gap in the armpit of the bulletproof vest Dion was wearing, and he died.

Washington was also shot and killed.

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer testified that the police response was justified and that Washington “never stopped” being a danger to responding officers, even when he was running away.

Officers later learned that Washington’s weapon was a pellet gun.

The police department’s internal affairs unit and a Douglas County grand jury cleared the three officers who fired their weapons of any wrongdoing.

Douglas County District Judge Jim Masteller is expected to take the case under advisement after the trial ends this week.

Dion was the first crew member to be killed in more than 30 seasons of “Cops.”

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com