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Officer involved in death of Zachary Bearheels appears in court

Posted at 7:22 AM, Feb 08, 2018

About a dozen people representing the Native American community gathered outside the courtroom today, demanding the prosecution of the officers involvedin the in-custody death of Zachary Bearheels

Former OPD officer Scotty Payne appeared today before a judge for a pre-trial conference, continuing to deny allegations of excessive force during the in-custody death. 

A scuffle caught on camera shows Bearheels being repeatedly hi in the face and hit with a stun gun a dozen times at the Bucky's near 60th and Center. 

"There's several use of force policy violations that occurred during that time period," OPD chief Todd Schmaderer said. "I would say that time period was about one minute, 45 seconds." 

Outside the courtroom, a group prayed for a greater understanding between the Native American community, local government and law enforcement, saying all officers involved in Bearheels' death should face prosecution. 

"We want to make sure as native people, we count as humans beings and justice in various cases where there's foul play or murder or deaths of native people," a member of the Native American community John Pappan said. "It shouldn't be that way, because this is supposed to be a democracy where everyone is created equal." 

After Bearheels' death, the group called for Mayor Stothert's office to create a Native American Advisory Board. Those at Wednesday's hearing say they expect plans for the committee to move forward in the coming weeks. As for the Omaha Police Department, beginning this June, all officers wil receive training on how to respond to better communicated with those who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. 

Another pre-trial conference is scheduled for March 12.