6th Omaha police officer loses job over 33rd, Seward Street arrests - Omaha.com
Published Friday, January 10, 2014 at 12:00 am / Updated at 1:04 am
6th Omaha police officer loses job over 33rd, Seward Street arrests

A sixth Omaha police officer involved in the arrests of three north Omaha brothers — and an alleged evidence-tampering cover-up — has lost his job.

Officer John D. Payne was terminated Thursday, people with knowledge of an internal investigation told the World-Herald. The move came a day after the firing of another officer, Dyea L. Rowland.

The two latest firings mark the official end of a lengthy internal investigation into the March 21 incident at 33rd and Seward Streets.

They cap an already unprecedented response from department officials, in which four other officers were terminated, three were placed on administrative leave and one was reassigned to other duties.

It's not clear what roles Payne and Rowland played in the incident. Both had been with the department since 2008.

Rowland was one of the first three officers who arrived on the scene to handle a parking complaint. She is visible on a video captured by a neighbor.

The video shows another early responder, Officer Bradley D. Canterbury, throwing Octavious Johnson to the ground, handcuffing Johnson and later appearing to strike him several times.

Canterbury, who was one of the four officers fired in April, has appealed his termination and is awaiting an arbitrator's decision.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine, who also investigated the incident, determined that Canterbury acted within the law.

Two of the other previously fired officers were later charged with crimes and did not attempt to get their jobs back.

One of the two, Officer James Kinsella, was charged with felony evidence tampering and misdemeanor obstruction and theft. He is accused of destroying a memory card of a camera that Juaquez Johnson used to record police officers' actions at the scene.

Kinsella's supervisor, Sgt. Aaron Von Behren, faces misdemeanor charges for allegedly orchestrating a cover-up over the stolen footage.

The other fired officer, Justin A. Reeve, did not appeal his termination.

Payne and Rowland were among the officers who had previously been put on leave or reassigned. The others were Matthew C. Worm and Joseph A. Koenig.

“As I have previously stated, we did not carry ourselves in a manner representative of the Omaha Police Department in this incident,” Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said in a statement released Thursday evening. “I am confident in saying the Omaha Police Department is a better department in the aftermath of this incident.”

All 32 officers who responded to the scene, as well as Schmaderer, are being sued by the Johnson family in federal court. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit this week on behalf of the family.

The suit alleges that the officers used excessive force and completed a search without a warrant. Family members are seeking punitive damages from four officers and compensation for medical expenses and property damage. They also want police officers to get more training on the rights of people who film police activities.

Warning: This video of the 2013 incident contains obscene language.

Contact the writer: Erin Golden

erin.golden@owh.com    |   402-444-1543    |  

Erin covers the Omaha City Council and the Mayor's Office.

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