Video showing fatal shooting of ‘Cops’ crewman at Omaha Wendy’s is released

Video showing fatal shooting of ‘Cops’ crewman at Omaha Wendy’s is released
Bryce Dion

The crewman for the “Cops” TV show slumps against the glass, surrounded by his sound equipment.

“Bryce, are you all right? Bryce, are you all right?” someone says on the video of the 2014 shooting at a local Wendy’s. “Stay with me, man. Stay with me.”

A Douglas County district judge has refused the City of Omaha’s request to bar the release of the video, which shows the fatal shooting of a crew member of the “Cops” TV program and a man firing a pellet gun at police.

Judge Mark Ashford issued his ruling Tuesday during a hearing on a wrongful-death lawsuit. The suit was filed against the city by the brother of 38-year-old Bryce Dion, the crew member killed by Omaha police gunfire on Aug. 26, 2014.

The video was played in open court, and The World-Herald requested and obtained the recording.

Attorney Christian Williams, who is representing Dion’s brother, Trevor Dion, said the video and other evidence will be shown at the trial, which will begin sometime after July.

“It’s probably the best piece of evidence to show the conduct of everyone involved,” Williams said. “It’s very chilling, and it shows a very unnecessary situation that led to the death of a filmmaker.”

The suit alleges that police were negligent during the encounter.

Bryce Dion was a sound mixer who, with a “Cops” cameraman, had been riding along with officers to shoot footage for the TV show. Police Chief Todd Schmaderer had invited the show to Omaha in an effort to build public trust.

Dion, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was accidentally struck underneath his armpit by a police bullet during a gunbattle at the Wendy’s restaurant at 4308 Dodge St.

Cortez Washington, 32, also was killed when three police officers shot him after responding to a call of a robbery at the restaurant. Washington had fired what looked like a real gun, but was in fact a pellet gun, at Detective Darren Cunningham and Officer Brooks Riley. The two officers, along with Officer Jason Wilhelm, returned fire.

After reviewing the evidence from the shooting, Schmaderer decided that the officers’ actions in firing their weapons were justified.

A grand jury also cleared the three officers.

The video clip, which lasts about two minutes, shows Dion and cameraman Michael Lee in the back of a police cruiser with Riley and Wilhelm.

After the car pulls up, Lee enters the Wendy’s and records Washington near the front counter.

After the shooting, Lee goes over to Dion, who is on his knees in the vestibule, barely moving.

Assistant City Attorney Ryan Wiesen said the city had offered the video as evidence in a motion asking the court to dismiss the suit. Wiesen said he couldn’t comment further on the pending legal matter. An attorney for the production company of the show did not return a message seeking comment.

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