Attorney for 'C.O.P.S.' crew member killed by police gunfire to appeal civil lawsuit dismissal

By  | 

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- A civil lawsuit stemming from the tragic night that Bryce Dion was killed in Omaha has been dismissed.

Dion was a crew member with the TV show "C.O.P.S." He was shot and killed during a police confrontation with a suspect at the Wendy’s restaurant at 42nd and Dodge in August 2014.

Police caught up with the robbery suspect later identified as Cortez Washington.

As seen in video from the show, several crew members follow officers into the restaurant to document the situation. Officers fired on Washington when he drew his weapon, killing him.

The court decision noted that Washington had “pointed what appeared to be a black handgun toward the officers. Although it was later determined that the firearm was a pellet gun, the officers reasonably believed that it was a real firearm.”

Dion was also killed in the confrontation — accidentally hit by police gunfire.

Dion’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Omaha and Langley Productions.

Douglas County District Judge James Masteller dismissed the civil lawsuit Thursday.

In the decision, the judge pointed out:

  • The officers did not accidentally or negligently fire their weapons
  • Their intent was not to hit Dion

The officers testified that they did not see Dion in their line of fire and if they had, they would not have fired their weapons.

One officer saw a Wendy's employee in his line of fire and repositioned.

The case was dismissed with prejudice, which means it cannot be re-filed.

Omaha City Attorney Paul Kratz issued the following statement in response to the dismissal of the lawsuit:

"While the city is grateful for the Court's ruling that officers of the Omaha Police Department acted correctly, we are still saddened by the unfortunate death of Bryce Dion. We hope the decision will allow the city and the family to move on."

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer is quoted in a statement as saying, "Our respect and sympathy continue to go out to the family of Mr. Bryce Dion. As tragic as this was, the officers were justified in their actions. The pain and suffering from Bryce's death will always be with us."

Omaha police shot 36 times in this incident. One of those rounds struck COPS audio supervisor Bryce Dion as his fellow crew members captured it on camera.

Dion and Washington were both killed.

In the aftermath of the civil lawsuit being dismissed, Brian Jorde said, “I'm incredibly concerned for everyone in Nebraska, frankly."

Jorde is the attorney representing Dion’s family and he said, “If this ruling stands it means police can kill innocent people and their families have no recourse as long as the police say 'Oops, I meant to kill the bad guy over there.'"

While the judge noted the officers at all times acted reasonably, Jorde delivered the judge's decision to the family.

He said, “I mean the first time around was bad enough and now again their innocent son was killed and there's nothing that can be done. Imagine telling that to a mother that lost her son.”

Jorde said they will be filing an appeal to be heard by the Nebraska Supreme Court or court of appeals.