Police Chief recommends officers employment be terminated

Published: Aug. 30, 2017 at 6:49 PM CDT
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Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer announced Wednesday that he recommends two more officers involved in the in-custody death of Zachary Bearheels have their employment terminated.

Four officers were on scene during the June 5th incident: 3-year veteran Officer Jennifer Strudl, 4-year veteran Officer Makyla Mead, 4-year veteran Officer Scotty Payne, 2-year veteran Officer Ryan McClarty.

Former police officer Scotty Payne was charged with second degree assault in the case. Former Officer Ryan McClarty was cited with third degree assault.

On Wednesday, Chief Schmaderer recommended that Officer Jennifer Strudl and Officer Makyla Mead also be fired. Both officers had been administrative leave since the incident.

The confrontation with Bearheels happened June 5th at the 60th and Center Bucky’s. Bearheels, 29, had allegedly been causing a disturbance at that location around 12:30 a.m.

Officers arrived and questioned him. They provided him with water and offered to take him wherever he needed to go. Authorities say Bearheels became more erratic and officers eventually placed him in handcuffs and later into the back of a police cruiser. The struggle began when Bearheels got out of the vehicle.

In the course of that clash, Bearheels was punched, dragged by the hair, and repeatedly stunned with the TASER. He was eventually taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Authorities have listed the cause of death as "excited delirium" - a sudden death caused by agitation and distress.

In total Bearheels was tased a total of 12 times, OPD policy states that after three times alternative methods are to be used.