Two Omaha police officers fired after an incident on June 5th are being charged with assault. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine says this is in connection to an altercation with 29 year old Zachary Bearheels outside of a convenience store at 60th and Center Street.
Kleine says, “Zachary Bearheels had committed no crime. He was simply a human being suffering from a severe mental illness that was quite obvious to anyone who was in contact with him. The issue that presents itself in this case was if the officer’s use of force in this circumstance was justified or was it a crime.”
Kleine says Bearheels was handcuffed, dragged by his hear, shocked with an electronic device and punched repeatedly. After medics were called to the scene he passed away. Kleine says, “Our deepest sympathy goes to the Bearheels family.”
Autopsy results show there were no controlled substances in Bearheels’ system at the time of death. The cause of death was excited delirium. Doctors stated the specific actions of the officers are not by themselves are the “approximate cause of Bearheels death.”
Former Omaha Police Officer Scotty Payne is charged with 2nd degree assault which is intentionally or knowingly causing bodily injury to another person with a dangerous instrument, in this case a taser. He is expected to turn himself in on Friday. That is a felony and carries up to 20 years in prison. Former Officer Ryan McClarty is charged with 3rd degree assault, a class one misdemeanor that carries up to one year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine. He will receive a citation with more to follow. A grand jury will also conduct an investigation.