CRIME
03/26/2013 02:45 pm ET

Omaha Police Video: Alleged Brutality Caught On Camera Prompts Outrage, Investigation

A YouTube video of what appears to be police brutality in Omaha, Neb., has provoked public outrage, an internal police investigation and the temporary reassignment of three of the officers involved.

Uploaded to YouTube on March 21, the video shows a police officer throwing a man violently to the ground. The man is subdued by two officers, while a third officer pushes a second man, who is recording the incident on his cell phone, away from the scene.

CBS Omaha affiliate KMTV reports that the man thrown to the ground is Octavius Johnson, and the man filming the incident is his brother, Juaquez Johnson. According to a police report obtained by the news station, the dispute began over a parking violation. The document also said that Octavius was "argumentative and aggressive and had to be taken down."

In the video, Juaquez can be heard shouting at the two officers subduing his brother. "That's abuse!" Juaquez says. "Get your knee off his neck!"

Moments later, the third officer runs at Juaquez, who quickly retreats into his house. The officer follows him inside as a third and fourth patrol car join the two already at the scene. Another five officers, including one of the two officers subduing Octavius, can be seen running into the house.

Then, the remaining officer holding Octavius can be seen striking him repeatedly. Octavius told Fox Omaha affiliate KPTM the officer "choked" him to the point where he "couldn't breathe," punched him "in the face" and asked him if he wanted to die.

Although the video shows a total of eight officers entering Juaquez's house, Omaha Police would not tell The Huffington Post whether there was a warrant to enter the residence.

Sharon Johnson, Octavius and Juaquez's aunt, who is disabled, told KMTV that officers knocked her out of her wheelchair and handcuffed her when they entered the home. Omaha.com reported Saturday that she was hospitalized for her injuries. She has since filed an official complaint with the Omaha Police Dept.

Moments after the seventh and eighth officers enter the home, the video shows a handcuffed Octavius being put in the back of a police cruiser. Seconds later, Juaquez, handcuffed, is seen being led out of the house.

According to his police file, Juaquez was charged with obstructing officers and disorderly conduct, while Octavius was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Police also arrested a third brother, Demetrius Johnson (not shown in the video), and charged him with obstructing a law enforcement officer, which presumably happened inside the house.

The Omaha Police Department released a statement Friday saying there would be a comprehensive investigation into the incident and that all violations of policy would be addressed. Police Chief Todd Schmaderer on Saturday promised to "get to the bottom of this," reports NBC Omaha affiliate WOWT.

The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has also called for a federal investigation of the incident.

Mayor Jim Suttle issued a statement on Monday regarding the incident (per KMTV): “We've worked hard to gain public trust and will do what's necessary to ensure that trust is not broken."

The video was recorded Thursday by YouTube user Michael Lynch II, in a house across the street from the Johnsons.

(Hat tip, Photography Is Not A Crime via Radley Balko)

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