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Parking violation turns into police assault caught on video – lawsuit

A Nebraska family filed suit Monday against dozens of police officers alleging that they turned a parking violation into a rough arrest and violating the family’s constitutional rights by breaking into a nearby home and confiscating video of the incident.

Four Omaha police officers initially responded to a complaint on  March 21, 2013 that Octavius Johnson had parked his truck in the  wrong area of the street. A video of the incident recorded from  an upstairs window shows police throwing Johnson to the ground  and punching him multiple times as a number of other officers  rush to the scene.

He went around my neck, threw me to the ground, choked me  out to the point where I couldn’t breathe or speak,” Johnson  told KPTM-TV in Nebraska. “The officer told me to stop  resisting, punched me in the face and said ‘do you want to die  today.’”

Another officer pushes Octavius’ brother Juaquez, who is filming  the arrest on a camera phone, away from the scene. Juaqeuz then  escapes the officer’s grasp and sprints into a neighbor’s home  and is chased by a handful of police, who eventually confiscated  his phone.

That video – which is thought to have been destroyed – has never  been made public. Yet the video captured from upstairs quickly  went viral after the incident, inspiring community demonstrations  and eventually the dismissal of the four officers caught on film.  Criminal charges were brought against two of those patrolmen for  either tampering with evidence or being an accessory.

Octavius, 28, was arrested and charged with resisting arrest and  disorderly conduct, while Juaquez, 23, was charged with  obstructing officers and disorderly conduct.


Many of the police actions that took place that day are in  violation of our policies and do not represent how I want our  officers to conduct themselves,” Omaha Police Chief Todd  Schmaderer told reporters at a press conference days later.   “The final resolution will be fair to the citizens of Omaha,  the Omaha Police Department and the specific employees involved  so that we can move forward and restore any public trust that may  have eroded with this incident.”

If the Omaha police have rectified the situation, it has not been  enough of an effort to satisfy the Johnson family. With help from  the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) they filed suit seeking  damages for the anxiety and depression that have surfaced in the  months since. Eight officers were named in the suit and another  24 were unnamed.

This incident will live with our family for the rest of our  lives,” said Sharee Johnson, mother of the two young men.   “None of us can call 911 when we need help and believe that  police would be there to help us. We live in a city where we feel  we have no protection.”

Octavius Johnson, the man tackled from behind, told Omaha’s KMTV  that he’s grateful a childhood friend was able to capture the  incident on video.

I think we all know what would have happened if he wasn’t  there,” he said. “It would have been swept under the  rug.”


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Comments (3)

  1. Bob

    Cops are lucky they weren’t being shot. This is just plain wrong. No cops life was in danger but they beat the guy on the ground and barge into a house without a warrant. Somebody should have shot them. There are good cops but these jerks aren’t it!

  2. bill polk


    • Aileen

      Huh. What about the female Aspergians? How do we find mates? We’re just as rude and inoaesiderctn.As for Jess’s comment, I have picked up on some of those cues not by instinct, but by imitation. So that’s my two cents.

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