The Latest: Police union blasts charges against ex-officers
Jul. 26, 2017
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Latest on the death of a mentally ill man who was shocked with a stun gun a dozen times in Nebraska (all times local):
An Omaha police union has blasted prosecutors' decision to criminally charge two fired police officers following the death of a mentally ill Oklahoma man last month who was shocked by a stun gun a dozen times and punched repeatedly in the face while on the ground.
In a two-page written statement, the Omaha Police Officers' Association accused the Douglas County Attorney's Office of bowing to pressure in charging former officers Scotty Payne and Ryan McClarty with assault in the June 5 death of 29-year-old Zachary Bearheels.
The union called the investigation "rushed." It says prosecutors hurriedly reached "the remarkable and unprecedented conclusion of criminal charges." The union says prosecutors should have allowed a grand jury to determine whether any charges were warranted.
Bearheels' family says he was lost in Omaha after being kicked off an interstate bus going from South Dakota to his home state.
An attorney for one of two Omaha police officers facing assault charges in the stun gun-related death of a mentally ill Oklahoma man says his client "feels awful" about the fatal encounter.
Matthew Burns, an attorney for former officer Scotty Payne, said his client is hoping that bail is set low enough that he can be released on Friday, when he's set to turn himself in to police.
Douglas County prosecutor Don Kleine announced Wednesday that he will charge Payne with second-degree assault and charge former officer Ryan McClarty with misdemeanor assault in the June 5 death of Zachary Bearheels.
Burns said Payne is "not a bad person. He didn't set out that day to go to work with the intent to hurt anyone."
An attorney for McClarty did not immediately return a message Wednesday seeking comment.
Police cruiser video of an altercation between Omaha police officers and a mentally ill man who subsequently died shows the Oklahoma man being shocked repeatedly with a stun gun and being punched in the face even as he was lying on the ground and not resisting.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine showed parts of the video Wednesday at a news conference where he also announced assault charges against two fired officers in the June 5 death of 29-year-old Zachary Bearheels. Kleine says the video shows Scotty Payne shocking Bearheels outside an Omaha convenience store a dozen times. The video also shows Ryan McClarty repeatedly punching Bearheels in the face, even after Bearheels appeared to be unconscious.
Both police officers were fired from the Omaha Police Department earlier this month. Two other officers on the scene — Jennifer Strudl and Makyla Mead — were placed on administrative leave following Bearheels' death.
A Nebraska prosecutor says he didn't charge two Omaha officers with murder or manslaughter in the death of a mentally ill man who died after being shocked a dozen times with a stun gun because he doesn't think there's evidence to support those charges.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced Wednesday that he had charged former officers Scotty Payne and Ryan McClarty with assault in the June 5 death of 29-year-old Zachary Bearheels. The Oklahoma man was also punched and dragged by the officers.
Kleine says there's no evidence that the officers intentionally killed Bearheels. Kleine also cited an autopsy report that said Bearheels died of "excited delirium," but couldn't say that the shocks or punching of Bearheels caused his death.
A Nebraska prosecutor says he will charge two Omaha police officers with assault in the death last month of a mentally ill man who was shocked with a stun gun a dozen times.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine made the announcement Wednesday in the case of two former officers who confronted 29-year-old Zachary Bearheels on June 5 at an Omaha convenience store. Officials say Bearheels died after being shocked 12 times with a Taser, punched and dragged by his hair by the officers.
Scotty Payne and Ryan McClarty were fired from the Omaha Police Department this month based on the recommendation of police Chief Todd Schmaderer.
Kleine says he's charging Payne with second-degree assault, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He says he's charging McClarty with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.
A prosecutor plans to reveal the findings of an investigation into the death of a mentally ill Nebraska man whom police officers beat, dragged and shocked with a stun gun a dozen times.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine is expected to disclose Wednesday whether his office will charge the two former Omaha officers who confronted 29-year-old Zachary Bearheels on June 5 at an Omaha convenience store.
The Omaha Police Department fired the officers, Scotty Payne and Ryan McClarty, earlier this month on the recommendation of Police Chief Todd Schmaderer.
Officials say Bearheels died after the officers shocked him 12 times with a Taser, punched him and dragged him by his hair.