Bad boys, bad boys whatcha want
Whatcha gonna do when sheriff John Brown come for you tell me whatcha gonna do.
-- 'Cops' theme
Welcome to the worst day of Todd Schmaderer's life -- or at least a lead-pipe cinch for one of the top five.
The Omaha police chief welcomed the crew of the Cops reality-TV show to River City with open arms, seeking to showcase his officers' professionalism and, he hoped, improve relations with the community. Now a crew member of the show is dead -- fatally wounded by shots fired by one of Omaha's finest at the scene of a robbery in progress at a local Wendy's.
Officials know the sound man had to have been killed by police bullets. The fast-food robber was armed with a BB gun.
Clark Griswold doesn't know how lucky he was.
Welcome to the national narrative, Omaha. Welcome to the eye of the storm over police weapons, police tactics and police training. Welcome to the national conversation over shoot-first mentalities.
Welcome to public-relations hell. Welcome to our national never-ending tragedy.
A stupid robber with a fake gun is dead. That's tragedy enough. But when an innocent TV-show crew member gets killed in the process of a cop turning a perp into Swiss cheese, we're firmly into words-fail territory.
From today's Omaha World-Herald:
A crew member with the “Cops” television show was fatally struck by police gunfire as Omaha officers confronted a robber — who also was fatally wounded — at a midtown restaurant, law enforcement sources said Wednesday.I KNOW it's difficult being a police officer. God help me if I were forced to make a split-second, life-or-death decision in the dark of the night. God help me if I screwed it up, which I probably would.
The World-Herald has learned that at least 30 shots were fired at the Wendy’s near 43rd and Dodge Streets.
Officials said it appears the only shots fired came from police.
The robbery suspect apparently had an air gun, a type of BB gun that looks like an actual firearm. He apparently was a prison parolee from Kansas, law enforcement sources said.
The names of the two dead had not been released at midday Wednesday. Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer has scheduled a press conference for 2:30 p.m.
Still, it's becoming apparent that what we're dealing with here is a nationwide, systemic problem of deadly proportions. Back to the newspaper account:
The TV crew member who died was a sound engineer, who holds the microphone during taping. The camera operator was not injured, nor were any police officers.
According to the show’s website, “Cops” crew members wear bullet-proof vests on the job.
The crew has been working in Omaha for much of the summer.
David Brown, president of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, called the shootings a tragedy.
“We are deeply saddened that this happened and offer condolences to all of the family members involved,” he said.
The shootings occurred after an officer discovered a man, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and white bandanna, robbing the restaurant, Deputy Police Chief Dave Baker said late Tuesday.
The first officer at the scene called for backup about 9:20 p.m. The east-facing windows of the Wendy’s restaurant were riddled with bullet holes, and Dodge Street was closed for several hours.
The two shooting victims were taken to the Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition. They later died.
|Officers honor TV |
crewman via Facebook
"The east-facing windows of the Wendy’s were riddled with bullet holes. . . ."
"The robbery suspect apparently had an air gun, a type of BB gun that looks like an actual firearm. . . ."
Something is very wrong here, and not just because an idiot felon and an innocent man are dead.
We have to be careful about saying too much that's too specific because, after all, we don't know what we don't know. We have to be careful because, in a split second . . . at night, you can't tell a BB gun from the real thing.
But we do know enough that we must admit that something's horribly wrong with the Big Picture here. Ferguson. St. Louis. A guy shot dead by Ohio cops because a scared Person of Walmart saw a black man with a BB gun (which he had just picked up in the toy department) and called police, who shot first and asked questions later.
SOMETHING is wrong, this we can say. The specifics, we're still grappling with.
But something tells me it has something to do with a nation amid a societal and cultural meltdown that, coincidentally, also happens to be armed to the frickin' teeth.
Last night, it was a stupid criminal and a TV guy trying to do his job. Two dead and an officer's life perhaps ruined. Nobody asked for that, I wouldn't think.
Tomorrow, it could be you. Or me. Or anybody.
Be afraid. Be very afraid here in Firearm Nation.
UPDATE: The police chief's press conference just ended. Here's what he said:
|An Airsoft replica Taurus PT92|
The chief said the cameraman entered behind the two officers the crew was riding with and was able to take cover, but that the sound engineer, Bryce Dion, got caught in the vestibule. After being hit by officer's gunfire, he said, the robber tried to escape through that vestibule as the cops continued to fire.
Dion was hit by a round which entered under his arm through a gap in his bulletproof vest. Schmaderer said he didn't think Dion was visible to the officers at the time.
The chief, in response to a reporter's question, said he hadn't slept since the incident.