A jury found former Omaha Police Officer Scotty Payne not guilty of assault and weapons charges in the death of Zachary Bear Heels a year and a half ago. Bear Heels was tased 12 times during a scuffle of with three other officers. He died a short time later.
Omaha Police Union President Anthony Connor says now that court proceedings are complete they are focusing on another issue, getting his job back.
Payne left the courtroom after the verdict without saying a word but his attorney Anthony Conner said, “It didn’t even take a day of deliberations to figure this out. That is powerful. That is a very strong showing why we shouldn’t have been here in the first place.”
Bear Heels was traveling from South Dakota to Oklahoma City on a bus when he was removed in Omaha for erratic behavior. Four officers were called to 60th and Center Street on June 5, 2017 to investigate. during that time, Bear Heels was tased by Payne and was hit a number of times by former police officer Ryan McClarty. Two other Omaha officers had their employment terminated following the incident. The cause of death was “excited delirium”.
Bear Heels family said he suffered from mental illness Native American Activist Frank LaMere and other tribal members are outraged at the verdict. LaMere says, “Zachary Bear Heels did not see the world as you see the world, as we see the world. But, that is no reason for his life to be taken. This is a dark day for Douglas County. I think we will talk about this day for generations to come.”