Omaha Police Fire More Than 30 Rounds at Robber With Pellet Gun, Killing Him and a Cops Crew Member [UPDATED]


Omaha World-Herald video

In June, explaining why he decided to let a TV crew from Cops tag along with his officers, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said, "I'm proud of the department and want the professionalism of our officers on display for the city and the world to see." Last night some of those officers, accompanied by the Cops crew, stumbled upon a robbery in progress at a Wendy's in midtown Omaha. More than 30 rounds later, the suspect was dead, and a member of the TV crew was dying.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that the robber, who was armed only with an Airsoft pellet gun, did not fire any of the rounds, all of which came from the police. "No officers were injured and no suspects were considered at large after the shooting," the paper says.


Since Airsoft guns can look a lot like the real thing, it may have been reasonable to view the robber as armed and dangerous. Yet the number of rounds in the absence of return fire seems excessive, and images from the scene (not to mention the death of a bystander) suggest they were not aimed very carefully. More information is expected at a press conference this afternoon.

Update: At a press conference today, Schmaderer said he was convinced that the three officers who interrupted the robbery "had no choice" but to respond as they did. The incident was captured by the Cops camera, and Schmaderer watched the video before the press conference. Contrary to initial accounts, he said the suspect, Cortez Washington, did shoot his pellet gun, which the police believed to be a real handgun when they returned fire. Schmaderer declined to say how many rounds they fired but said the number did not seem excessive to him. According to police, three witnesses confirmed that Washington fired the pellet gun twice, at Det. Darren Cunningham and Officer Brooks Riley. One of the rounds that police fired in response struck Bryce Dion, the Cops soundman, who died later from the injury. A grand jury will consider the evidence and decide whether criminal charges are appropriate.  

[Thanks to Citizen Nothing for the tip.]

NEXT: Elizabeth Nolan Brown Discusses Millennials on Fox Business

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Now, that’s just plain SCARY.

    1. Why is that? The Brave Heroes in Blue followed procedures and relied on their training, and they all went home safe that night.

      1. I just forwarded a story to 24_7 about what is going on right now where I am. There is a lockdown and the cops are searching for a suspected shooter. You should see the picture I have but I dont know how to upload to one of them fancy sites.

        1. If you have a Photobucket account, they create an email address to which you can upload photos, which seems rather quick about actually making them available for display.

        2. imjur!

        3. Please tell me this isn’t the story out of Colorado? Somebody swatted a dude who was playing Counter-Strike on live stream, and he got the whole arrest on his broadcast.

      2. Uhh, what about the innocent man they killed? He sure as hell didnt get to go home safe.

    2. I wonder if the cop that shot the crewman just didn’t like the guy, and figured this would be a good way to get rid of him.

      Then he found out that the perp didn’t actually have a gun. Awkward.

  2. Being near the cops–just being near them–is becoming as dangerous as being their target. Fuck. Me.

    1. At least they didn’t shoot each other the way the Watertown police did in the gun battle with the Tsarnaev brothers.

      1. You misspelled “unfortunately”

    2. Shit, when I see NYC’s finest I cross to the other side of the street; or if that’s not possible I give them a wide berth and never, ever look them in the eye.

  3. Eh, I’m willing to bet there were 20 cops there. One cop fired and so they all fired, like 1-2 bullets. Not only is that a classic example of the restraint our police show but an exemplar of marksmanship. I mean, 30 rounds from officers who had no idea what they were aiming at and not only did they hit their suspect but only *1* bystander was hit.

    Great job fella.

    1. Like a pack of barking dogs – only one knows why they started barking but they will keep it going for a while.

      1. Or worse. One starts barking then realizes he made a mistake, but by then all the others are barking, so he starts because *they* are.

        1. You know what I really think the problem here is – in these situations I bet there’s no solid chain of command.

          All the responding officers are roughly the same level in the police hierarchy and I bet there’s no on-scene leader (unless it a long-duration stand-off where a senior officer has time to respond and take charge) to wrangle these guys.

          What you have is a gaggle of independent operators who have little experience communicating with each other, no single plan of action either.

          So one guy sees a gun, goes off, and they all go nuts – no-one really sure why though.

          1. It’s not a chain of command problem. It’s a discipline problem.

            They spray and pray. In all the shootings I have studied*, they were behaving without any doctrine and control. If they have a doctrine, they don’t follow it. They haven’t been trained to keep cool and to react in a disciplined manner.

            They freak out and are a danger to friendlies and neutrals.

            1. Their doctrine is Officer safety. And, they follow it all to well.

              1. Except they aren’t playing it safe. They shoot each other too.

                I can’t find the news articles anymore, but in the Tsarnaev manhunt, there were two episodes were the police opened fire on suspects.

                One was the battle in Watertown, where the police shot into the upper stories of the nearby residences, and one cop shot another. This is the famous one

                The other one is less well known; IIRC the cops thought they’d found the SUV parked on a side road, they ambushed it with gun fire. In the targeted vehicle were not the Tsarnaev brothers, but a state trooper and an FBI agent who were also involved in the manhunt.

                To date, the handful of cops and cop-wives I’ve discussed this with all feel that the manhunt was a smashing success. They get offended if anyone implies it wasn’t. They are not introspective. They are as incapable of learning from their mistakes as a senior officer in the Japanese Imperial Army fresh from his victory over the pacifists of the Ghandi Nebula.

                1. There is a religious zeal when it comes to cop behavior. Questioning tactics or discipline is blasphemous.

          2. So, they need Top Men?

          3. Actually the problem is that police officers are sociopaths, who only apply for the job in the first place because they want to be able to harass, assault, and murder people without getting in trouble for it. Police officers have literally IDENTICAL psychological profiles as violent criminals and gang members.

    2. Only imperial stormtroopers are so precise.

    3. As scary as the notion of deathbots is, I think we can trust robots with lethal force more than we can cops. Computers are precise, and have only as much concern for self-preservation as we give them.

      1. In comparison to the ED-209 demonstration, you must admit, ED-209 only hit his target and no one else in the crowded room.

        1. Hell, Even Robocop gave a shit about the citizens. He actively tried to help people and save lives.

          And that was in fucking Detriot!

  4. (not to mention the death of a bystander)

    Was he really a bystander? Seems he was taking part in the action.

  5. Man goes into wild and tries to make friends with grizzlies. Bears kill him.

    Man stands in water teeming with large bull sharks and while he is explaining on camera how they are really harmless to humans, one bites his leg off.

    Man climbs over into the polar bear exhibit at a zoo to hug the bear because of global warming. Bear tears his arm off.

    Man works closely with cops to make a tv show glorifying them. Shot dead by cops.

    Color me shocked.

  6. So this will be when Cops stops glorifying these fat f**ks with badges and guns, right? Right?

    That’s some fine panic fire, Lou.

  7. It would have been perfect if Nancy Grace were there.

    1. Her hair helmet is just that.

    2. Unfortunately, as a demon from Hades, Nancy Grace is immortal.

      1. If you shoot her, 3 more of her are spawned from every drop of blood.

  8. They feared for their lives. The end.

    1. Hey, this isn’t Detroit or Baltimore, it’s Omaha we’re talking about. Nebraska man. Of course they were terrified.

  9. Well, we might at least have some decent footage of the incident, so there’s that.

    As always, is the last few seconds before the gunfire starts that are the most critical. Maybe it was a good shoot of the robber, maybe not.

    I would point out, though, that regardless of whether a “civilian” was justified in shooting someone in self-defense, a “civilian” wouldn’t get a pass if they shot bystanders in the process. The shooting of the cameraman was not a good shoot, period, full stop, and there should be dire legal consequences for it.

    But, we all know there won’t be.

    1. I’m sure the officers involved will get “more training” and a paid vacation. Those are dire consequences, right?

    2. When a cop shoots a bystander, they rest easy knowing that their target will get all the blame. In fact, their own conscience (as it is) remains clear, because they truly believe that it’s the target’s fault. After all, had the target obeyed like a good peasant, then no shots would have been fired. Thus it’s the target’s fault.

      1. When a cop shoots a *cop*, they rest easy knowing that their target will get all the blame.

        Last year in the Tsarnaev shootout, the only cop who got shot was shot by another cop. He nearly died because he got nailed in the femoral artery.

        To my knowledge the guy who shot his buddy has never faced any sanction. Then again, I don’t hang out with any cops, so perhaps it’s was one of those secret censures that we mundanes don’t hear about.

        Naturally, they were considering charging the surviving Tsarnaev with the shooting. The brothers had only one gun between them, and the surviving brother wasn’t the one wielding it. Is it irony when you are charged with shooting someone when you didn’t have a fire arm on you?

        1. What about when they recently shot at some guy right in Times Square for failure to obey, hit some woman in the leg, and charged the target?

        2. Or when the cop shot someone’s dog in their yard while the guy he was chasing was hiding under the porch, and when asked why he shot the dog the cop said “The perp shot the dog.” As if in their mind, anyone or anything that they shoot was caused by the person who failed to obey them.

    3. Let’s hope there is footage. If there isn’t, it’s always going to be in the back of my mind that they shot the crew member because he got some footage they didn’t want anyone to see. You know it’s really sad when I’m thinking that could be an actual possibility.

      1. Nah. They were in control of the footage. They could destroy anything they didn’t like.

  10. For once they were almost certainly justified in believing that the guy they shot had a gun. So of course they did something else unpardonable instead.

    1. There no orphanages to burn down or 10lb dogs to shoot, so the cameraman was the next best thing.

  11. No mention that it was a pellet gun in the news story around here. Interesting, given that if it was an Uzi or AR-15, I’m pretty damn sure that would have been reported.

  12. Man, police really don’t like to be filmed, do they?

  13. Maybe some good will come of this if “Cops” finally goes off the air.

    1. I’m embarrassed to say that there was a time in my life where Cops was must-watch viewing for me. So young and innocent (and stupid) I was.

      1. When you look at it from their point of view, it’s like “Fuck yeah, that’s awesome!”

        When you look at it from the point of view of the members of the public they are bullying, you almost wish someone would shoot the cops.

        1. Cops came on the air in 1989. I was 12 years old at the time. For teenage me, it was an awesome show. In fact, I watched all of the police shows – that one, World’s Wildest Police Videos, Real Stories of the Highway Patrol, ones like that.

          I grew out of it, but at the time, I was all for the rah rah “fuck yeah, that’s awesome” thrill of the chase. Didn’t know any better I guess.

          1. I watched it a lot, but I was 31 in ’89. All I could think was: Jeebus, what a waste of time, money, effort, etc. in this worse-than-useless WOD.

        2. What I’ve never understood is why any of the civilians interacting with the cops would sign the waivers to be on the show.

      2. So many Friday nights (25 years ago) my drinking began to the tune of Bad Boys. Didn’t really pay attention much – just laughed at the drunk trailer people and the black guy hiding under the kiddie pool.

      3. IT’s silly how they always go for those really dumb criminals that are already well known by the local police department.

  14. At least with the robber dead, there won’t be an expensive trial for his murder of the COPS crew member.

  15. Apparently we now know what they are going to do when they come for you.

  16. I think the higher standard cops should be held to in “justifiable” shoots is actual danger to their life, rather than the “I wuz skeered!” in current use. If our super brave heroes can’t handle that, they need to find a new job.

    1. The officers went home safely that night. There is nothing else that matters to these guys, including the safety of non-officers.

      1. You misspelled “serfs.”

  17. I’m proud of the department and want the professionalism of our officers on display for the city and the world to see.

    And so it was, Chief.

    1. How so many can be so proud of blatant sniveling cowardice on display boggles the mind.

  18. This guy filmed his murder?

    1. He was a sound engineer, so he recorded it. I’m sure his scream of pain was recorded with outstanding fidelity.

      1. The new Wilhelm Scream ?


  19. No officers were injured

    Good shoot.

    Case closed.

  20. We need to return to the days where cops carried .38 revolvers and maybe a 12-gauge pump in the trunk of their squad cars. Not saying that this would’ve saved this guy, but it would help minimize the carnage when they go into full-coward, spray-and-pray mode.

  21. Stand by for the release of the photos of the COPS crew member smoking marijuana at a party.

  22. It is hard to really know what happened here without evidence. The problem with the media today is too much focus on now and not enough follow up when the dust settles and facts emerge. Did the sound man walk into the line of fire? How many officers fired and was there fire reasonable given the threat at the time. Some airsoft guns I have seen do not have the orange tip- plus it is likely the robber would have cut it off as it would be obvious to his victims. Given that there is no way an officer could tell even relatively close up that the gun was airsoft. Unfortunately training does sometimes go out the window when an officer is faced with what they believe is deadly force. A controlled pair is usually the proper response, that means two shots first then if the threat is down you stop firing and go to the ready position. This is easy on a range hard when staring down the barrel of a gun. A full investigation will surely be launched and hopefully the cameras caught what happened. Then the officers can be assessed by professionals who will decide what punishment may or may not be warranted.

    1. Unfortunately training does sometimes go out the window when an officer is faced with what they believe is deadly force.

      This makes me feel so much better about all of the millions in tax dollars that go towards training and equipping these buffoons.

  23. At 1st I parsed Omaha “Police Fire More Than 30 Rounds at Robber With Pellet Gun” as “Police fire more than 30 rounds with pellet gun at robber.”

  24. I thought it was never go full retard?

  25. What gets left out of these conversations is that politically correct guns are required to carried by cops. I’m referring to the ridiculous 1st shot heavy trigger pull. In my experience, one needs a 3-4lb trigger pull to hit anything past 10ft. In NewYork, 1st round double action shooting has the trigger at 12lbs. So the 1st round is less likely to be squeezed off due to adrenline yet once fired may as well been aimed at the moon. Imagine having to deliver 12lbs of force to one finger and having your hand to control the pistol, doesn’t happen. Then the panicked cop doesn’t have any confidence in his 1st round hitting the mark and his target is on the move for rounds 2 and so on. New York cops frequently shoot bystanders and spray numerous projectiles before an effective kill shot is made. This is a little known bit about cops shooting being less effective than civilians.

  26. Of course, the typical police dept requires 8-10lbs trigger action for 1st round (then the weapon goes from double action to single aciton and 4-5lb for following shots). Still, with how modern training rules, -if you draw your pistol, you fire it rule- it makes little sense to have such heavy action 1st round, 8lbs OK, 12lb no.

    Combine this with most folks don’t hunt and have zero knowledge of wound characteristics, other than misleading TV shows, you don’t have perps just drop. That rarely happens. A bad guy with a few drinks will adrenalize feeling less pain and have super survival strength long enough to fatally wound whomever. When Navajo goats had to be shot back in the 30’s, it was noted that 30 to 100 body shots were sometimes required before they’d drop. Bleeding out takes generally 15-30secs, plenty of time to do massive harm to innocents.

    What we have here, is an ignorant bueracracy, more subserviant to knee jerk emotions, than reality. If you think the caliber of persons who choose law enforcement as a career is lacking, try taking away their ability to end a violent threat quickly.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.