A group protested outside of Omaha Police Headquarters Sunday afternoon calling for change in the wake of video posted on YouTube of arrests being made by officers the suspects’ family claims involved excessive force.
Officers called to 33rd and Seward last Thursday where a car was being towed for expired tags were seen on video recorded by a neighbor putting 28-year-old Octavius Johnson on the ground and hitting him several times. Other officers chased his younger brother, 23-year-old Juaquez, into their house after recording the incident with his cellphone and asking police why.
Octavius and Juaquez are out of jail on bond for the misdemeanor charges of obstruction. Another brother, who was inside the home the entire time, was jailed for an outstanding warrant. Police say two of the Johnson brothers have a long history of misdemeanor offenses, the youngest had two before this latest incident.
After holding a brief rally outside Sunday, the group entered the OPD lobby chanting “no justice, no peace." Leaders said there needs to be a change.
“It's the same thing every time,” said Robert Wagner of KNOSE (Keeping North Omaha Safe for Everyone). "I know I saw an officer striking a man that was handcuffed so at the very minimum, how can you feel safe as a citizen when at any time they can run inside your home and assault you?"
They called for the need of an independent police auditor and changes in the police union contract. Members of the group believe the union will protect officers even with the use of excessive force.
“People need to understand, without independent oversight, it's just going to be the same story, it's going to continue and I believe that's part of the reason these officers act out is because they have a union that protects them and have a chief that protects them," said Wagner.
Once inside the building at 15th and Jackson, the crowd supported the alleged victims' mother while she filed a citizen's complaint with the police department.
"A police officer told my son you're going to die today,” said Sharee Johnson. “We don't feel safe. We don't feel safe at the hands of the police." She said this is all bullying from the police department. She said police threatened, then took her dogs and towed three other legal vehicles all over the car with expired tags.
“We need somebody who is going to change it," said Johnson. "If you can't change it, get out of the way, get out of the way, give it to somebody who can handle it because the big boys up there can't handle it."
Saturday, OPD Chief Todd Schmaderer promised to "get to the bottom” of what happened through a thorough and fair internal investigation.
Channel 6 News contacted police about the Johnsons' accusations of bullying. The police said because it's an internal investigation, they can't comment at this time.