For those who think "Cops" isn't real: One of the show's crewmembers was shot and killed by Omaha police officers during a shootout with an armed robbery suspect.
Bryce Dion, a sound supervisor with the "Cops" camera crew, was fatally shot by police gunfire despite wearing an armored vest. TMZ reports that Dion was in the entryway of a Wendy's -- where police had received a robbery call -- when the robbery suspect emerged, fired his weapon, and police opened fire.
What in reality TV happened here?
'Friendly Fire' Downs 'Cops' Crewman
Apparently, the 38-year-old "Cops" sound supervisor was shot by Omaha PD officers as they were returning fire on the armed robbery suspect. According to TMZ, the bullet which killed Dion slipped through the "arm hole" of the armored vest -- a real danger when being caught in a police shootout.
Readers may be wondering: How do you know that it was a police bullet that killed Dion? Well, police later confirmed that the "gun" that the robbery suspect was using to allegedly hold up the Wendy's was in fact an Airsoft gun, which only fires tiny plastic pellets. These guns are legal in many places, but the suspect's gun unfortunately gave police the impression that they needed to neutralize a threat of deadly force by responding in kind.
According to The Associated Press, the suspect, Cortez Washington, 32, was on parole since 2011 and was also killed by Omaha police gunfire that night.
Grand Jury Investigation
Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer confirmed at a press conference that footage from that fateful "Cops" shooting would be part of a grand jury investigation into the incident. The AP reports that the police have released stills from this video, but not the video in its entirety. As with most grand juries, much of the evidence presented to it will be kept secret before it reaches a decision.
In considering murder or manslaughter charges, a grand jury may have to consider whether it was reasonable for police to open fire that day, both with Dion in the line of fire and the reality that Washington's gun was not real. This legal determination may be even more difficult given that police not only killed a robbery suspect but also an innocent bystander.
While a grand jury sorts this out, TMZ reports that the "Cops" crew will be getting counseling.
- Police Shooting Kills Crew Member Working for Reality Show 'Cops' (The New York Times)
- 'Cops' and Suspects' Rights: Whatcha Gonna Do When They Record You? (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
- 5 BB Gun Laws You Need to Know (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Calif. Deputies Kill Boy, 13, Carrying Toy Gun (FindLaw's Blotter)