Excessive Force Claimed in Suit Against Omaha, Nebraska Police

January 8, 2014

A lawsuit alleging excessive force and other rights violations has been filed against Omaha, Neb., police over an incident that led to the firing of four officers.

The ACLU of Nebraska said the lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Omaha on behalf of Octavius Johnson and four members of his family. The lawsuit alleges illegal search and seizure and says the family was never compensated for property damage or medical expenses.

A police spokesman, Lt. Darci Tierney, said she couldn’t comment on the lawsuit, which names Chief Todd Schmaderer, eight named officers and 24 unnamed officers.

The lawsuit didn’t cite a specific figure but seeks compensation for medical expenses, loss of work time and damages “for the humiliation, embarrassment and mental anguish suffered by Octavius, Juaquez and Demetrius (Johnson) when they were arrested without probable cause.”

The case stems from the March 21 arrest of the three Johnson brothers. Officers responding to a parking complaint have said Octavius Johnson approached officers in an aggressive manner. But video secretly taken by a neighbor shows Officer Bradley Canterbury grabbing Octavius Johnson from behind and throwing him to the ground. Later the officer is seen punching Johnson in the face several times while Johnson is prone on the ground.

The punches occurred after other officers left the scene to enter Johnson’s mother’s house. Family members have said officers knocked the brothers’ aunt, Sharon Johnson, from her wheelchair inside the home while they beat Juaquez Johnson and took a cellphone and a video camera that Juaquez and his brother Demetrius were using to record Octavius’ arrest.

The lawsuit says officers didn’t help Sharon Johnson back into her wheelchair and that she was placed in handcuffs instead. She later was taken to a hospital. Sharon Johnson is the sister of the brothers’ mother, Sharee Johnson.

Octavius, Juaquez and Demetrius Johnson were all arrested, but only Demetrius Johnson was charged on an outstanding warrant. It was for littering. The charge was dropped in May.

In April, Schmaderer fired Canterbury and three officers involved, and two were charged with criminal violations. Canterbury was not charged.

Latest Comments

  • January 13, 2014 at 8:08 am
    KY jw says:
    Perhaps because lawsuits generally (or at least frequently) are paid by insurance carriers.
  • January 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm
    sl says:
    It is a lawsuit against a municipality. I believe this may be the video that was all over Facebook and You Tube...if it's the one I saw - it was really bad - and that was only... read more
  • January 8, 2014 at 1:48 pm
    Huh! says:
    The story as told certainly indicates excessive force and inhumane treatment. It is no wonder that the cost of insuring a municipality, including their police force, is getti... read more
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