Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer on Friday temporarily reassigned an officer involved in the arrest of three men whose relatives allege the use of excessive force by police.
Schmaderer, who also ordered an internal investigation, and other police officials watched a video of the arrest posted on YouTube, according to a police statement issued Friday.
The video shows officers near 33rd and Seward Streets just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Officers were there to investigate a parking complaint. The incident quickly escalated, with about a dozen police vehicles responding. It ended with the arrest of three brothers.
Police and a family member gave different accounts of what happened.
Officers said they were impounding vehicles with expired license plates when Octavious Johnson, 28, pulled up at a high rate of speed in front of the officers.
Johnson was “argumentative and aggressive'' and had to be wrestled to the ground by an officer to be arrested, according to a police report.
The video shows another officer assisted in subduing and handcuffing Johnson. Later, it appears that one officer strikes Johnson three times.
Officers also can be heard on the video yelling at a second man on the sidewalk.
After that man — Juaquez Johnson, Octavious's 23-year-old brother — went inside a nearby house, several officers raced after him. Officers came back outside with him and the third brother, Demetrius Johnson, 22.
The police report indicates the officers who initially responded were Matthew Worm, Dyea Rowland and Bradley Canterbury, though the specific role each played was not clear. None was placed on administrative leave. One of the officers was reassigned until the investigation concludes, a police spokeswoman said. She declined to identify the officer.
Sharon Johnson, the men's aunt, told The World-Herald that Juaquez Johnson had been filming the incident as it unfolded and was told by police to stop. He ran inside the house to get away from them, and they followed to get the video, she said.
Juaquez Johnson didn't post the video on YouTube. The video posted there was shot by a neighbor from an upstairs window across the street.
Sharon Johnson, 45, who uses a wheelchair, said as one officer ran onto the front porch he knocked into her. She said the wheelchair fell backward, and she hit her head.
“My legs were up in the air, and my head hit the ground,” Johnson said. She said the family planned to file a formal complaint with the Police Department.
Police provided a different account, saying she was pushed out of the chair by Juaquez Johnson as he ran from police. Sharon Johnson complained of leg pain and was taken to a hospital.
She said the incident began when a tow truck driver who had tried to remove her car — it had expired plates — moved on to other vehicles after she assured him she would get her tags Friday. The truck began preparing to tow other vehicles, including at least one owned by a family member. Concerned, she flagged down two police officers.
A short time later, Octavious Johnson pulled up in a blue pickup.
Sharon Johnson said Octavious was asking police why they were allowing the cars to be towed. She said her nephew began to yell, “Why are you hitting me?” after an officer forced him to the ground.
The police statement said: “The investigation will entail many interviews with witnesses and officers as well as reviewing any cruiser or private videos that exist. Chief Schmaderer will make his final determination after the investigation is complete.”
Octavious Johnson was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, obstructing police and reckless driving.
Juaquez Johnson was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct and obstructing police. He is on probation after a conviction last month on a felony charge of attempted methamphetamine possession.
Juaquez also was charged in 2007 with the same criminal counts he now faces in connection with the Thursday incident. He was found guilty in that case and sentenced to 45 days in jail.
Demetrius Johnson was arrested on suspicion of obstructing police and having an outstanding warrant.
World-Herald staff writer Emerson Clarridge contributed to this report.
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