Terminate & Prosecute the Officers Responsible for Zachary Bearheels' Death

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On Monday June 5, 2017 Zachary Bearheels died while in the custody of the Omaha Police Department (OPD).

Officers Scotty Payne and Ryan McClarty are responsible for the excessive force that resulted in Bearheels' death.

According to the Omaha Police Department's official press release: "For the next 1 minute and 45 seconds, Mr. Bear-heels sat on the ground with his legs out in front of him and offered no resistance. During this time, Officer Payne activated the Taser three times. The first activation was unprovoked. After the Taser completed the five second cycle, Officer Payne stepped towards Mr. Bear-heels and while standing over him said, “you’re gonna get it again.” When the next two activations occurred, Mr. Bear-heels did not offer any resistance other than minor movement of his feet and legs which posed absolutely no threat to the officers. These are egregious violations of the Omaha Police Department’s policy, procedures and training on use of force and the use of a Taser. "

Officer Payne tased Zachary a total of 12 times, most of them while he was in handcuffs. Omaha Police Officers are trained to deploy a taser three times - any use beyond that is a "risk of health concerns" according to the OPD Chief. Payne was wearing a body cam the night of the death, but it was found to be turned off.

A cruiser camera caught footage of Officer McClarty dragging Bearheels by the hair and hitting him in the head, even as he sat motionless and unarmed.

All four officers at the scene had been extensively trained in the use of force, de-escalation techniques, and dealing with the mentally ill.

Zachary was on his way home to Oklahoma, but had come off his medications and was not permitted back on the bus in Omaha, NE. His mother, Renita Chalepha, contacted the Omaha Police Department to report him missing and alert them of his schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. She asked that he be taken back to the bus station if he was lucid, otherwise asked that he be taken to a mental health crisis center. One of the first officers on the scene spoke with Renita for 20 minutes that night, while they determined the best course of action.  Zachary was announced dead not more than an hour and half later.

Zachary is not the first Native to have unjustifiably lost his life at the hands of a police officer. According to The Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice's report, Native Americans, per capita, are more likely to be killed by a police officer than any other U.S demographic. In 2016 alone, the number of Native's killed by police doubled that from 2015. The killing of Native people often goes unheard of by mainstream media and rarely, if ever, reaches headlines. This has to end. 

These officers need to be held responsible for the inhumane and unethical treatment of Zachary Bearheels. A young man lost his life, unjustifiably, and Officers Scotty Payne and Ryan McClarty need to be held responsible for their actions. Something has to be done about this blatant disregard for Native Lives. It can start with justice for Zachary Bearheels.

Officers Scotty Payne and Ryan McClarty need to be terminated and charged accordingly for their actions. Sign today to support #JusticeForBearHeels

 

The OPD Official time line of events can be found here: https://police.cityofomaha.org/press-releases/listid-4/mailid-1156-in-custody-death-investigation-release?tmpl=component

 

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