Omaha Police chief sheds light on traffic stop, shooting of Kenneth Jones
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - On Monday, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer shared more details of the traffic stop and events leading up to a fatal officer-involved shooting of a Black man, which has sparked protests in recent days.
Saturday, OPD released the names of the officers involved in a traffic stop Thursday night that escalated and led to the death of Kenneth Jones.
The traffic stop was a catalyst for protests at OPD headquarters in downtown Omaha over the weekend.
Mayor Jean Stothert said during a news conference Friday that the officers — later identified as Dan Faulkner and Richard Martier, who have both been with the department since 2016 — were placed on administrative leave.
Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said the time between the stop and the shooting was one minute and seven seconds.
“Investigating officers spoke with other witnesses not in the car who reported hearing the commands for those in the car to show their hands,” he said.
Police do not believe the driver was under the influence, though how the driver was stopping and accelerating was what intitally attracted their attention.
A vial of PCP was found on Jones’ body while the toxicology report from his autopsy is not yet available.
Schmaderer urged any other witnesses of the event and anyone with video to contact OPD.
Chief Schmaderer going to give timeline first -- then OPD's deadly force policy and his thoughts followed by questions. Bodycam footage won't be released until after the grand jury sees the case. We will see still photos this afternoon.— Brian Mastre WOWT (@brianmastrewowt) November 23, 2020
Screenshots from the body camera one of the officers was wearing was shown. However, the video itself was not released pending the decision of a grand jury whether to indict the officers involved.
“We are talking about an incident that we all wish didn’t happen,” Schmaderer said. “I can’t control how some members of our community will receive this.”
Officers unholstered their weapons when they got out of their cruiser while approaching the car because they could see someone moving around and reaching in the car, he said.
Both officers aimed their guns at Jones as they were alarmed while he was moving around and not showing his hands while others in the car did, he added.
“When we have an incident occur, that’s why body cameras are so important for transparency,” Schmaderer explained.
Neither officer involved has any history with use-of-force complaints.
During the struggle with Jones outside of the car, one of the officers reached where Jones was reaching and felt the metal of the trigger guard of the gun, he said. At that point, the officer backed away to create distance and yelled that Jones had a gun, then fired his weapon at Jones.
When Jones fell forward, the gun in his hand was found underneath him, Schmaderer said. The gun was not registered to him and as a felon he would not be allowed to possess a firearm.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for all quadrants of our city, especially north Omaha. I’ve gotten to know their leaders. But I think that we know it’s a large city and things are going to happen -- and when they do you have to look at the agency and hold them accountable,” he said.
Schmaderer said he did not know when a grand jury would be convened but said he hopes it is soon.
Asked about the police union contract which is up for vote among the Omaha City Council, Schmaderer said “I’ll be honest with you, that seems a little bit like piling it on. We’re trying to do what we can in the community and on every turn it seems that we’re taking hits left and right. This incident and the police union contract are two separate things.”
Watch Monday’s news conference
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