Update: Officer Firings Upheld; Two Plan Appeals

By: WOWT Email
By: WOWT Email
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The chief's recommendations to fire four Omaha police officers involved in a videotaped arrest at 33rd and Seward last month have been upheld.

So far, two of the officers are intending to appeal their firings with an independent arbitrator. They are former officers Brad Canterbury and Justin Reeve.

The other two have not made public their intentions.

After hearings with Human Resources Director Richard O'Gara, the firings by Chief Todd Schmaderer were upheld.

According to police, two officers were fired on April 18 and two additional officers were fired April 23.

The firings come after three male siblings were arrested March 21st. Officers were initially at 33rd and Seward to tow a vehicle for expired plates; however, tensions rose and a rough arrest was caught on camera.

The firing has impacted the case against on of the brothers, Demetrius Johnson. He was supposed to stand trial Tuesday for his role in the incident; however, it was delayed for obstruction.

Prosecutors asked for more time because they assumed the witnesses -- the police officers who were fired -- were not available to testify.

Robert Wagner, who had his own rough arrest two years ago, wonders why the case wasn't thrown out. "When it's police officers and their story is not together it doesn't corroborate they're allowed all the time in the world but I can't hold something back. I can't not appear. It's going to go on no matter what."

Sharee Johnson, the mother of those initially arrested, was visibly upset that her son's case hangs in limbo. "I'm aware that it could have been dropped by now."

The defense asked for the case to be dismissed, but Judge Lowe said he'll revisit the trial in 28 days.

The other two brothers have not faced formal charges. The city prosecutor has put those decisions on hold while criminal investigations into the officers' actions are under way.

County Attorney Don Kleine along with the Nebraska State Patrol are running point on whether the officer's will be charged.

Demetrius was charged with obstruction at the 33rd and Seward incident because he had an outstanding warrant for littering and wasn't able to bond out right away as his brothers did.

Posted March 26, 2013

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer has provided an update into the internal investigation of a rough arrest which was caught on video last week. One of the three officers initially reassigned has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Chief Schmaderer says two police officers have been reassigned pending the investigation. Another officer has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Three male siblings were arrested March 21 after tensions rose while officers attempted to tow a vehicle for expired plates near 33rd & Seward. Family members of those arrested are accusing police of going too far. That includes 28-year-old Octavius Johnson, the owner of the cars.

The police chief is asking for patience as the investigation is ongoing. He says he is committed to a thorough investigation and will notify the public when the internal investigation has been completed. He said we can expect periodic updates as permitted by the police union contract.

In the police report -- officers said Johnson was "argumentative and aggressive."

His younger brother, Juaquez, who was recording the events on his cellphone camera, was told by an officer to get in the house.

Juaquez kept coming back, and two-and-a-half minutes after the take-down officers ran after him into the house.

"As soon as that other cruiser pulls up -- he yells, 'Give me that camera!' and he runs after Juaquez," said his mother Sharee Johnson.

So where is that cellphone? The family says they don't have it -- and that officers took it.

Omaha police say they can't talk about it since it's part of the internal investigation.

"What that man did is perfectly legitimate. Anytime you are out in the street and they see a police activity going on -- they're free to videotape it [as long as you're not interfering]" said lawyer and frequent Omaha police critic James Martin Davis. "The only thing they can confiscate in plain sight is contraband -- like counterfeit cash, drugs or stolen property."

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