A suspect shot by Omaha police following a drug raid Friday night has died from his injuries. His sister told Channel 6 News on Wednesday officers went too far and killing Jason Welch was unnecessary.
The 34-year-old Welch was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Jennifer Lovings that started ramming police vehicles. An undercover officer said it appeared Welch was reaching for a gun so he opened fire. Lovings took off and later abandoned the vehicle with the wounded Welch inside.
Lovings turned herself in Sunday. The 35-year-old-year-old was booked for assault on an officer, felony flight to avoid arrest, use of a weapon to commit a felony and various narcotics charges.
Police will not name the officer who shot Welch. A department spokesperson says the force is offering condolences to the family.
“Why shoot from the side and shoot the passenger, go after the driver and then it came about that he was reaching for a gun, then we find out he didn't have a gun,” said Jenny Welch, still trying to understand why her brother was shot and killed by police in the Walgreens parking lot near Center and Saddle Creek.
“It's totally unjustified and we're not gonna sweep it under the rug, we're doing our part, steps of what need to be done to make sure this is investigated."
Jenny described her brother as fun-loving, a father of seven children, but he did have a problem, he was addicted to meth.
“Yes, people are judging him. There's people out there that judge him that are alcoholics. Everyone has an addiction, no one is perfect. We're not trying to defend what he was doing, he was wrong in what his addiction was. We're not trying to defend him in any means of that, what we're trying to say is why did they have to shoot him?”
It all started last Friday night when police served a warrant in the area of 65th and Wirt streets in connection with a meth investigation. Officers arrested 27-year-old Rachel Galvan, 25-year-old Alexander Studer, 30-year-old Jesus Gomez, 18-year-old Danielle Alberto, 23-year-old Armando Gomez and 21-year-old Marcial Corona.
“The officers located 11 pounds of meth, which is a street value of a half-million dollars, over $90,000 in cash, three handguns, three bulletproof vests," said Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer.
Police later caught up with two other suspects just after 10 p.m. at the Walgreens. Undercover officers pulled up, tried to box in their vehicle and directed them to surrender.
Investigators outlined the case during a news conference on Saturday afternoon. The chief said Lovings, who was driving, began ramming the police vehicles. Welch was in the passenger seat. “The detective who was driving this vehicle was able to get out of the vehicle and was in a position that was dangerous between the suspect's vehicle and his vehicle."
Welch appeared to move his hand towards the floorboard, said the chief. "At this point the officer discharged his duty weapon. He fired three times as he feared Mr. Welch was armed and reaching for a weapon."
Lovings was able to drive away. Police chased her, but stopped after they learned the vehicle was already being tracked by GPS as part of the investigation. It was later found parked about three miles away at 48th and W streets.
“Because of the fate of Jason Welch she was afraid she was going to get shot because they were aggressively looking for her all over and she maintains the shooting of Jason Welch was unjustified, that they shot an unarmed man,” said Lovings' attorney, James Martin Davis. "She was concerned for her safety. She claims she never rammed anybody, that they hit her."
"You have handguns involved, you have money involved,” Chief Schmaderer said Saturday. “All of this is intertwined. This is an investigation that carries serious magnitude in the city of Omaha."
Police served a search warrant at Lovings' house and found 1.8 pounds of meth valued at $80,000 along with a stolen handgun.
"That was in someone else's bedroom. It wasn't in her bedroom," said Davis.
As is normal procedure, the officer who fired the shots is on administrative leave while the department investigates. In accordance with state law, a grand jury will be called to investigate.