by Margery A. Beck, Associated Press | August 28, 2014
Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer pauses during a news conference at police headquarters in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014, with Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, left. Bryce Dion, a sound technician with the “Cops” television show who was embedded with Omaha police, was killed on Tuesday during an armed robbery at a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant. The armed robber was shot and died as well. AP photo
In the chaotic scene that unfolded, one crew member was struck by “friendly fire” from one of the officers, a bullet slipping past his bulletproof vest and killing him, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said Wednesday. The robbery suspect was also killed. The weapon he was carrying turned out to be a pellet gun, though it looked and sounded so real that both witnesses and officers were fooled, Schmaderer said.
Bryce Dion, 38, of Boston, the audio supervisor for “Cops,” is the first crew member of the long-running TV show to be killed while filming police in action, executives with the show’s production company said. Police identified the robbery suspect as 32-year-old Cortez Washington, who was on parole from Missouri for a robbery conviction.
Schmaderer told reporters that police and prosecutors have reviewed the “Cops” video of Tuesday’s shooting and found that the officers “had no choice” but to open fire, though a grand jury will still be tasked with investigating.
Schmaderer said the incident began when drive-thru customers alerted Detective Darren Cunningham — on his way to a different robbery scene in midtown Omaha — to an armed robbery at a Wendy’s. Cunningham called for backup, and Officers Brooks Riley and Jason Wilhelm — along with Dion and a “Cops” cameraman — arrived at the restaurant within 15 seconds, Schmaderer said.
The “Cops” crew followed the officers into the restaurant. There, police confronted a hooded and masked man. The cameraman darted into the dining area, crouched behind a low wall and held up his camera to record the confrontation. But Dion didn’t make it past the glass-enclosed entrance to the restaurant. Almost immediately, Schmaderer said, the suspect raised his gun and fired twice.
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