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GRAPHIC: Omaha Police release bodycam footage from fatal shooting in November

Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 2:27 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha Police body camera footage released as promised on Friday detail the mounting tension in a November traffic stop that ended with the fatal shooting of Kenneth Jones in November.

Three video files from the Nov. 19 incident were sent out by OPD at 1 p.m. along with a statement noting that the videos provided were “not the totality of the video shared during the grand jury proceeding.”

Legal hurdles had previously kept the footage from the incident that resulted in the death of Kenneth Jones out of view from anyone but the grand jury, which found no wrongdoing. Jones had been uncooperative with police during a traffic stop, and was armed.

WARNING: Videos contain expletives and may be disturbing to some viewers.

Body-cam videos show Officers Dan Faulkner and Richard Martier engaging at a traffic stop near 27th and Harrison streets that resulted in the shooting death of a man later identified as Jones.

Martier’s video goes to black with, picking up only audio details, as the camera fell off, reports state.

Seven minutes of video from Faulkner’s bodycam shows nearly the entire encounter, with visual obscured during a few seconds of close contact with Jones.

As audio is turned on, one of the officers says “he’s reaching” as they get out of the patrol car.

Faulkner repeatedly shouts to all people in a dark-colored car to “show us your hands!” and kicks the vehicle. Multiple people in the vehicle comply, sticking their hands out the driver’s window and both passenger-side windows, and some saying “open the door!”

“I’ve got my f---ing gun right on your face. Put your hands up, Now!” Martier says to Jones through the window.

Seated in the back seat, Jones appears not to comply — his hands are not seen in the video.

“Hands up! He’s digging... Hands! Hands! Stop reaching right now!” Faulkner shouts from the passenger side of the vehicle.

Officers continue shouting to the man to get his hands up and to unlock the door before Martier is seen shattering the rear-driver’s side window with his flashlight.

“He’s not listening!” Faulkner shouts.

“Why aren’t you listening? Open the door!” Martier shouts from the driver’s side of the vehicle as he breaks the window, then pulls the man out of the back seat.

Faulkner’s camera visibility then goes gray for a few seconds as he makes close contact with Jones, but continues to shout at him to make his hands visible.

Faulkner is heard shouting, “He’s digging, he’s digging. He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun! Gun! Gun! Gun! Reach!”

Shots are then fired, at 00:01:37 into the seven-minute video, as Jones stumbles up the curb, his hands still obscured from view, and falls face-down onto the grass and sidewalk.

Faulkner calls in “shots fired” at 00:01:50 into the video. as both officers continue shouting for hands to stay up and the remaining vehicle occupants to remain in the car.

At 00:02:55, officers approach the man, turn him over — more shouts of “Gun!” — and Martier begins CPR on him as witnesses scream “You killed him!” “You shot him!” “No reason!” at the officers and call them liars. They shout back, repeatedly, “He had a gun!” and point to the sidewalk as they continue performing CPR on Jones.

An ambulance arrives at the scene at 00:06:50 as CPR is in progress.

Community reaction

“The intent of the grand jury law is for the public to see the evidence. It is unfortunate a “review format” was used,” Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said in a statement Friday.

Two north Omaha community leaders viewed the videos Friday. Both Marcey Yates and Bear Alexander said they believe the traffic stop started out in the wrong direction.

“These officers came up on a random traffic stop, and within seconds, kicked the tail-light of the car, telling them to show them their hands with their guns drawn. And within ten 10 seconds, said ‘I have a gun pointed at your head.’ So of course this man is definitely afraid of the officers right now,” said Alexander, a community activist with ProBlac.

Both went over the videos closely, slowing them down at certain points of the recording. They said they believe that after police broke out the window and pulled Jones from the car, officers could have used non-lethal tactics to get Jones under control.

“At that point, whether you need to cuff the guy and take him down or whatever — from that point, there’s other options,” said Yates, director of Culxr House.

But Jones had a gun, and police say he would not show officers his hands. Still, they said they don’t believe Jones should have died on the street — and they don’t believe his death was justified.

“So what? Doesn’t matter. The law ain’t kill somebody if they got a gun,” Yates said.

They said the officers were much too aggressive for a minor traffic stop.

“They busted the windows out. They were yelling at women to ‘put their hands up,’ guns in their faces — that’s traumatizing in itself,” Alexander said. “How many people in west Omaha have had a gun pointed at their face?”

While glad to see police release the videos, they both still wondered why it took so long.

“Of course, we want them to routinely release the footage,” Yates said. “Sooner. Gotta do it sooner, though. Gives us a chance to see how they’re operating.”

They said the videos were difficult to watch.

“It’s one thing to imagine how it happened, but then to see how it happened is two totally different things,” Yates said. “So, man, I’m still processing it, to be honest. That’s wild.”

Alexander called it “traumatizing.”

“We allow officers to harras predominantly Black and brown people, pull them over, terrorize them. That was a traumatizing situation. Had Kenneth Jones would not have died, that still is a traumatizing situation,” he said.

Omaha Police statement

OPD explained why they waited five months to release the video saying in a statement that they withhold investigative records to ensure fairness in the criminal justice process.

The full OPD statement issued Friday along with the video files reads:

“The Omaha Police Department takes its obligations to maintain the integrity and completeness of its investigations seriously. Neb.Rev.Stat. §84-712.05(5) allows a law enforcement agency to withhold records which are part of an investigation that the agency is conducting. The Police Department has consistently and will continue to withhold investigative records since doing so is integral to fulfilling its duties and to ensure fairness in the criminal justice process. The Police Department has not made exceptions to this rule since doing so would likely lead to allegations of bias, unfairness, and inconsistency.

Recently, a Grand Jury reviewed the incident involving Kenneth Jones and officers of the Omaha Police Department that occurred on November 19, 2020. The Grand Jury issued a no true bill. Pursuant to Neb.Rev.Stat. §29-1407.01(3)(c), a copy of the transcript of the grand jury proceeding and any exhibits “shall be available for public review” pursuant to that statute. On April 22, 2021, the transcript and exhibits were made available for public review as required by the process established by the Nebraska Legislature.

As a result of this disclosure by the Clerk of the District Court, and pursuant to the language in Neb.Rev.Stat. §84-712.05 which makes clear that investigative material that is released by a public entity pursuant to its duties no longer gets the benefit of an exception from withholding, the Omaha Police Department will release the video that was part of the Grand Jury’s investigation. This variance to the Police Department withholding investigative material is due to the uniqueness of the language in Neb.Rev.Stat. §29-1407.01(3)(c) which requires release of this information to the public.”

Omaha Police Department

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said in a statement Thursday that “it has always been our desire to release it.”

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer shared more details of the November incident days after the encounter. The fatal shooting sparked protests downtown and subsequent arrests.

This is a developing story. Stay with 6 News for updates.

Correction: In a previous version of this story, one paragraph incorrectly stated Kenneth Jones was unarmed. 6 News regrets the error.

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