Protests Erupt in Omaha After Fatal Shooting of a Black Man by Police During Traffic Stop

Illustration for article titled Protests Erupt in Omaha After Fatal Shooting of a Black Man by Police During Traffic Stop
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A Black man was fatally shot during an altercation with two police officers who were conducting a traffic stop in Omaha, Neb., Thursday night, causing protests to erupt in the city over the weekend.

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NBC News reports that 35-year-old Kenneth Jones died at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he was taken after the shooting. It’s unclear which of the two officers shot him, but the shooting reportedly happened while the officers were struggling to forcibly remove him from a car he was riding in.

From NBC:

Police spotted a car with four people inside stopped in the middle of the road without its hazard lights on, they said in statements Friday and Saturday. The two officers involved in the stop, Dan Faulkner and Richard Martier, instructed all the people in the vehicle to put their hands up, police said, citing interviews with the officers and body camera video not reviewed by NBC News. The officers made the command as they walked to the vehicle.

Police said in a statement Friday that the three other passengers complied with the order but that Jones did not and that the officers then used a flashlight to break the car window and open the door closest to Jones, who was not driving.

Police said video shows the two officers “struggling” to get Jones out of the car. Police claimed to have seen a gun on Jones during the struggle and fired four shots at him.

The officers said they found a gun “directly underneath” Jones after they shot him. They also said that they shouted for him to “show his hands” after he was shot and had fallen to the ground.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, video footage taken from the dashcam on the patrol car shows the struggle between the officers and Jones. One officer can be heard shouting that Jones was “digging” for his gun.

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“Keep your hands where I can see them!” the officer said, the Herald reports. “Watch his right hand! He’s digging! He’s digging! He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!”

But activists in Omaha are unconvinced that the shooting was justified and a protest that took place near police headquarters Friday evening ended in the arrest of two protesters and three more receiving citations, the Herald reports. Tear gas was reportedly fired during the protest in order to disperse the crowd. Protesters demanded that all video related to the shooting be released to the public.

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“Until [police] prove that they didn’t murder a Black man, we’re not shutting up—not one bit,” Peyton Zyla, an organizer for local activist group ProBLAC, said, according to the Herald.

According to NBC, one of the protesters was arrested for “assault of an officer” after he allegedly shined a “laser light” on an officer’s face. Protests near the police headquarters continued Saturday and more were arrested for alleged assaults on officers. Police declared protests on both days to be “unlawful assemblies.”

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Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said during a news conference Friday that a grand jury will investigate the shooting and that the two officers involved have been placed on administrative leave.

Police Chief Todd Schmaderer addressed Jones’ loved ones as well as community members in a statement ensuring them that an investigation is underway.

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“We would like to express our condolences to the family and friends of Kenneth Jones and the rest of the community that are affected by this incident,” Schmaderer said. “We are committed to conducting a thorough investigation and providing the public with complete details.”

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

DISCUSSION

So what if he had a gun, Nebraska is an open carry state.

Why did the cops think that breaking into a stopped car using a flashlight was a proportionate action in the first place?