Omaha Police Kill 'Cops' Crew Member Bryce Dion in Tragic Shoot-Out

OMAHA, NE - DECEMBER 6: A police car sits in front of the Von Maur store at the Westroads Mall December 6, 2007 in Omaha, Nebraska. Nineteen year-old Robert A. Hawkins, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, opened fire on shoppers at the Omaha shopping mall Wednesday, killing at least nine people including himself. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
Source: Eric Thayer/Getty Images News/Getty Images
The long-running police reality show turned tragic this week when Omaha police fatally shot Cops crew member Bryce Dion, while responding to an armed robbery at a local Wendy's.The 38-year-old had just been promoted to sound supervisor, having worked for the series for the last five years. Though a reality TV show centering on police activity is bound to be risky, until this week, no one else in the Emmy-nominated show's long history (it premiered way back in 1989) has ever been killed while filming.

This is how the harrowing situation unfolded: On Tuesday night, two Omaha police officers took some Cops crew members with them to a robbery going on at Wendy's. When they got there, the police went in, at which point the apparently armed suspect started shooting — it turned out later that it was only a pellet gun, and that he'd been firing plastic bullets. But the officers, being unaware of this, returned fire in full force: They shot at least 30 bullets in the confrontation, hitting the robbery suspect as he was trying to escape the restaurant.

It was as the cops were shooting at the collapsing suspect that a police bullet hit Dion. As the Associated Press reports, in spite of Dion being protected by a bullet-proof vest, a bullet “‘slipped into a gap in the vest’ and entered his chest.” Both the suspect and Dion later died from their wounds in the hospital.
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According to Deadline Hollywood, critics have wondered whether the apparently excessive gunfire might have had something to do with looking good on camera. But Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer has adamantly refuted this, telling a Wednesday news conference: “Any criticism is unmerited. The grand jury will see this video, and I’m confident they will come to same conclusion." Still, the three officers involved in the shooting have been put on paid administration leave pending investigation.

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The news, of course, comes at a time when relations with police forces across the nation are strained, following the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown — the Omaha police force, with its own questionable history, has been no exception to this mistrust. The police department had hoped that bringing Cops to the area would help boost the force's image. That, sadly, seems unlikely now.

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