Activists remember Zachary Bearheels one year later

Published: Jun. 5, 2018 at 10:20 PM CDT
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Zachary Bearheels died in a parking lot at 60th St. and Center St. one year ago Tuesday. He was in police custody at the time.

Fellow Native Americans honored him with prayer, and sacred tobacco.

"It's hard for me to try to envision what Zachary Bearheels would have been thinking in his last seconds of life. Nobody to scream out to. Nobody to hear him," said Frank Lamere, an activist from the Winnebago Tribe.

Investigators said Bearheels died after being shocked 12 times with a TASER, punched and dragged by his hair by Omaha officers.

The county attorney said Bearheels, who was on his way to Oklahoma from South Dakota a year ago, suffered with mental illness.

The police chief eventually fired Scotty Payne and Ryan McClarty. Both are now facing criminal charges, and eventual trials.

"It's 2018 and they treat us like cowboys and Indians," said Lamere.

The group of activists plans to make sure Zachary Bearheels' voice is heard.

"I don't think justice is served yet. i believe we're on the right track, but we've got to demand that and it shouldn't be like that. I think we're going to hear him in Omaha and across Nebraska for a long, long time," Lamere said.

Training started on Monday where every officer must take part in a two -hour class about "Native American cultural awareness." It was required for the last two classes of recruits.

One of the officers has a trial date set for January.