Bond Set For Former Omaha Police Officer Scotty Payne in Custody Death Case


OMAHA, Neb. — A former Omaha police officer charged in connection to an in-custody death turned himself in to authorities early Friday morning.

Payne’s bond was set at 10 percent of $25,000.

KETV NewsWatch 7’s Camila Orti said friends, family and members of the Omaha Police Officers Association were at the hearing.

“We had some officers that wanted to show Scotty that he’s not alone,” Treasurer of OPOA, Dennis Sexton, said.

“The support that he’s got, the love that he’s got from the community is tremendous, and that’s got to be encouraging to him,” Payne’s attorney, Steve Lefler, added.

Payne was flanked by three correctional officers as he appeared in front of the judge.

The former officer was bailed out Friday afternoon around 2 p.m., within an hour of his hearing. A spokesperson with Douglas County Corrections said Payne was escorted out through a secure exit away from the main entrance.

He is charged with felony second-degree assault, following the in-custody death of Zachary Bearheels on June 5. If convicted, he could get a maximum 20-year sentence.

A second former Omaha police officer, Ryan McClarty, was charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, in connection with the case.

Video released by the Douglas County attorney’s office shows Payne and McClarty dragging Bearheels by the hair, followed by 12 shocks from a Taser and multiple punches to the head.

Bearheels later died at the hospital.

An autopsy showed “excited delirium” as the cause of death.

Payne’s defense team said the 5-year OPD veteran and the other officers involved in the incident were simply doing what they could to get a strong suspect under control, and believe the Taser may not have been working properly.

“If it was active, then how does he slip a handcuff, how does he grab four officers and pull them down,” Defense attorney Matthew Burns said, “it’s not possible.”

Lefler questions what the next step may have been.

“You pull out your gun?”

The prosecution says the cruiser camera footage speaks for itself, and they had enough evidence to prove the use of force was excessive.

“Certainly we have the device, from its records we know how many times it was deployed and it was 12,” Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said.

Douglas County Department of Corrections released the following statement Friday afternoon in response to media questions about preferential treatment:

“Inmates at the Douglas County Department of Corrections who are at-risk or deemed vulnerable in the general population are placed in protective custody and must wear a yellow jumpsuit.

DCDC has a responsibility to protect every inmate. Scotty Payne was classified for protective custody based on being a former police officer, the high exposure of his case in the media and the charge against him.

Based on his classification, officers were assigned to him to ensure his safety to and from his court hearing Friday afternoon.

The only inmates required to wear handcuffs and leg irons outside of their cells are those who pose a safety and security risk to the facility.

After Payne posted bail Friday afternoon, he was released through a separate exit door to ensure his safety. This is a common procedure that DCDC utilizes on a case-by-case basis.”

The Omaha Police Officers Association and the city of Omaha confirm that both Payne and McClarty filed appeals to their job terminations. The appeals will be reviewed by a third party arbitrator.


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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