EXCESSIVE FORCE: Omaha Family Police Claim
(WOWT) – The family of an Omaha, NE man arrested on Thursday claims excessive force was used in the process. What do police have to say?
A neighbor posted the video on YouTube soon after it happened and now an internal investigation is underway at the Omaha Police Department. Police Chief Todd Schmaderer is looking into it.
Chief Schmaderer says he watched the video in question along with his executive command staff and that he expects professionalism. That will be part of what’s examined in an internal investigation.
You don’t see much of what happened before the neighbor recorded the arrest. An Omaha police officer can be seen taking down 28-year-old Octavius Johnson, who was having his car towed at 33rd and Seward for expired tags just before 5:30 p.m.
“You are hitting him. Why are you hitting him?” One of his younger brothers, Juaquez, was recording with his cellphone. “That’s abuse, that’s abuse.”
An officer walked Juaquez away from the scene, but the 23-year-old returned. A few minutes after the arrest more officers arrived and went after the brother. After a number of officers were in the house, the officer on the ground was shown striking the suspect several times.
Sharee Johnson, who was home during the arrests, is Octavius’ mother. “If you see how many police officers were out here you would think we were drug dealers or injured someone. This was over a car.”
“We deserve an explanation of why we were treated this way,” said Sharon Johnson, Octavius’ aunt, who added an officer tipped her over in the doorway trying to get to Juaquez, who had run into the house. “He took my wheelchair and flipped me. I fell and my whole chair was on top of me.”
The family says officers took Juaquez’s cellphone, but didn’t know about the neighbor’s recording. “I know this will be a battle,” said Sharee. “I pray justice prevails. They crossed the line and know it.”
The family plans to file a complaint. Octavius and Juaquez are out of jail on bond for the misdemeanor charges. Another brother, who was inside the home the entire time, remains in jail on an outstanding warrant.
The family says police towed four cars, one for being parked in the wrong direction. The chief says this will be a comprehensive investigation and any violations will be addressed.