Use of force expert weighs in on video of Bearheels' incident

Posted at 11:18 PM, Jul 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 00:18:23-04

Today Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine released cruiser cam video of the police encounter before the death of 29-year-old Zachary Bearheels. 

(Read more on the county attorney's decision to charge two former officers, Scotty Payne and Ryan McClarty)

Edward Byers is working toward his Ph.D. in criminal justice at the University of Louisville. He also has 31 years of experience in law enforcement and has trained officers.

He noticed a few things in the video released.  

He said what struck him most was the way the officers hit Bearheels in the video, "I didn't teach any strikes to the head unless it was lethal force situations. Number one, it can hurt officers. And two, just a strike to the head can kill and occasionally does kill."

An autopsy found Bearheels died a sudden death associated with excited delirium, physical struggle, physical restraint and an officer's use of a taser. The medical examiner could not say the taser caused the death. 

Byers also believes more training is necessary for officers. He says technology is constantly changing and improving, and they need to learn the best ways to use devices like a stun gun. He said it should not be used more than one to three times. He said, after that, officers need to re-assess the next step. Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer says the taser was used on Bearheels twelve times. 

Byers also told us via Skype that he believes in a situation like this incident, departments should have added support when it comes to people suffering from mental health issues.