The Omaha Police Officers Association (OPOA) and its members
understand the pressure for answers regarding the unfortunate death of
Zachary Bearheels at 60th & Center on June 5.

The OPOA further understands the pressure felt by the Douglas County Attorney’s Office,
and specifically Don Kleine, to provide answers. However, the OPOA is
disappointed that he and his office succumbed to the pressure and
won’t allow the statutorily mandated Grand Jury process to take place,
which should include presentation of all evidence gathered by his office.
This includes any consultation with defensive tactic experts who found
the officers’ actions as falling within accepted police standards and not
excessive in nature.

This investigation has been rushed from the beginning and it has raced
into the remarkable and unprecedented conclusion of criminal charges.
The involved officers are entitled to the right of due process. The OPOA
finds it troubling that they would instead be subject to a rush to
judgment that is occurring outside of the Grand Jury process outlined
and mandated by Nebraska State Statute 29-1401(4). It is particularly
troubling that the County Attorney would describe the role of a
mandated Grand Jury as “moot”.

The involved officers are entitled to understand how their actions,
according to a certified forensic pathologist, “were not the proximate
cause of death” but were somehow worthy of criminal charges. The
involved officers are entitled to understand how their actions that
caused “no significant injuries” are somehow worthy of criminal
charges.

The involved officers are entitled to know why after being called by a
business owner to remove a unwanted party disturbing the peace of its
business and being on scene calling command on two occasions, and the
suspects family for over an hour and a half to gain direction on how to
handle the mental health concerns of the suspect they were left to figure
it out on their own.

The involved officers are entitled to understand how actions deemed by
the County Attorney as a “training issue” and would not support “an
intent to harm” are worthy of criminal charges.

The involved officers are entitled to know why when attempting to
control an actively resistive suspect who:

• Required four or more officers to control after he forced his way
out of a police cruiser contrary to commands; and
• Who fought officers attempting to restrain him from harming
himself by running through a parking lot in handcuffs towards the
place of business he was asked to be removed from; are not
required to utilize the Omaha Police Department’s use of force
policy under which they are trained and which the department
mandates including use of non-lethal electronic control devices, a
TASER.
The involved officers are entitled to know how they engaged in
excessive force if that non-lethal TASER was not successfully deployed,
where both probes were not firmly within the suspects skin thereby
ineffectively transferring an electrical charge (whether that is one or
twelve attempts) sufficient to subdue and gain compliance of the
suspect. The involved officers are entitled to know why a suspect who:
• Who they could not gain compliance through commands;
• Who attempted to gain compliance through use of a non-lethal
TASER per department policy;
• Who was able resist control by four or more officers; and
• Who was able to physically pull his hand out of a handcuff thereby
creating a deadly weapon raising that suspect to the level of a
Assaultive/High–Risk Subject (swinging of a lose cuff is
recognized to be fatal weapon to the suspect, or responding
officers), were not allowed to follow the Omaha Police
Department’s use of force policy under which they are trained and
which recognizes that an Officer maintains a right to self-defense
and mandates control of an assaultive high risk suspect through
techniques including closed hand strikes used in this instance.

Due process is a right afforded to all Americans, and that includes police
officers. The officers’ actions are not to be judged by 20/20 hindsight
but based upon the reasonable perspective of an officer on the scene.
These officers are entitled to a Grand Jury process and the ability to
present a defense that includes all facts and evidence, not those cherry-
picked for a press conference when the politics and pressure become
too much to bear.