Psychological Toll Heavy On Officers Involved In Shooting

By: Jacki Ochoa Email
By: Jacki Ochoa Email

It was a chaotic scene Tuesday morning with police taking cover behind their cruisers, trying for more than two hours to calm a man down. Tyree Bell appeared armed and was using his 3-year-old son as a human shield. Four officers eventually fired at Bell, killing him. An Omaha sergeant who’s been in a similar situation shares his story.

The four officers who shot and killed Bell in the doorway of his home are on paid administrative leave pending a grand jury investigation. They are 31-year-old Douglas Arrick, a four-year veteran, 36-year-old Carl Hanson, a 12-year veteran, 29-year-old Chithauta Hester, a four-year veteran and 35-year-old Alan Peatrowsky, a seven-year veteran.

They obviously aren't available to talk about what happened at 42nd and Spaulding, so we spoke with an officer who could walk us through what they might be going through right now.

Negotiations could not save the 31-year-old Bell. A witness, who didn't want to be identified, told us what he saw. "When he come out front with the shotgun, he had the baby in his arm like this here and a shotgun in his other hand, talking about what you going to do, kill me in front of my kid,” said a neighbor.

Tyree Bell

His story is backed up by the shocking images taken by a police cruiser camera and released on Thursday. Bell finally put his son inside his house and seconds later he was shot. It was the first time the four officers had ever fired at someone.

OPD Sgt. Jeff Baker knows what the officers are going through. “I know for sure without having talked to the officers, I presume that there were several of them that thought about taking a shot on the guy even though he was effectively using this young child as a shield."

Sgt. Baker believes the officers showed amazing restraint in an incredibly stressful situation. “Even the best police marksmen standing out in very cold, frigid temperatures, his or her ability to put accurate fire on a dangerous suspect is going to be diminished."

Sgt. Baker says no matter how justified the shooting may be, it doesn't make the officers feel any better. He says they should lean on their spouse or family and friends or turn to healthy hobbies that can help them cope with the very real and stressful situation they just went through. It's also important to point out the police department offers counseling.

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