Omaha Police share autopsy results, body-camera details from in-custody death

Updated: Jun. 12, 2021 at 2:19 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A day after family and state and local officials confirmed the identity of the victim of Thursday night’s in-custody death, the Omaha Police Department released further details about the incident that left a 26-year-old man dead.

According to the report, an autopsy completed on Saturday determined that “[Nigel] Phillips died as the result of a single gunshot wound to the head.”

Saturday’s report also included details about the police body-camera video, which OPD said shows a single shot was fired after which an officer is heard saying that Phillips was holding a gun and had suffered a gunshot injury. Investigators later determined the gun had been reported stolen in October.

Body-camera footage confirmed officers’ statements that a single gunshot was fired by Phillips, and that no officers fired any shots, the report states.

“A projectile was recovered, but ballistic testing will need to be completed,” the report states.

In accordance with state law, a grand jury will review the incident once the full investigation is complete.

A witness told police that Philips, armed with a gun, ran from the scene of the crash near North 34th Street and Laurel Avenue. The witness told police he ran north and west from the scene, so officers formed a perimeter around the area and saw Phillips “run south through houses,” according to the report.

“Phillips was observed behind a residence where he proceeded to take his own life after an officer gave verbal commands for him to drop the handgun,” Saturday’s OPD report states.

The incident started when an officer attempted to pull over a Camaro for expired plates at about 8 p.m. Thursday. The car collided with a pickup truck at Laurel Avenue. Deputy Chief Ken Kanger said at the scene that a woman and several small children, as many as four or five younger than age 6, were passengers in the car.

Saturday’s OPD report also stated that Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and Deputy Chief Kanger had “met with Phillips’ family and elected city officials to discuss preliminary findings of the investigation.”

Omaha Councilwoman Juanita Johnson and State Sen. Terrell McKinney confirmed to 6 News on Friday that Phillips had died in Thursday’s incident, saying they were also present when OPD officials spoke with Phillips’ family about the early parts of the investigation and reviewed some police body-camera footage from the incident. State Sen. Justin Wayne was also present at the meeting.

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