As police brutality persists, the latest tragedy has occurred in Omaha, Nebraska, with a 29-year-old Oklahoma man who died after being tased a dozen times and beaten by police officers.
Authorities were called to a gas station last week to help with a man who was refusing to leave the establishment, ABC affiliate KSWO reports. When they arrived, they confronted Zachary Bearheels.
After handcuffing the man and putting him in a patrol car, the officers contacted his mother, who advised them that her son was mentally ill and asked them to take him to a bus station so he could make his way home to Oklahoma.
However, the confrontation between Bearheels and the cops reportedly turned physical when they opened the patrol car door to buckle his seat belt and he tried to flee.
While attempting to restrain Bearheels, the officers tased him at least 12 times and punched him in the head multiple times. Following this assault, Bearheels died at a local hospital.
Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer spoke out against the conduct that the officers displayed during the incident, maintaining that their actions violated the department’s “policies, procedures, training and culture, and the whole nine yards.”
“In this incident, despite our extensive training, we failed,” Schmaderer said, according to The Washington Post.
Bearheels' family told local reporters that he suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. His aunt, Tracy Poafpybitty, criticized the officers’ failure to recognize his mental illness when they engaged with him.
“I know that they were trying to say that he was under the influence of drugs but there is a difference between seeing somebody under the influence of drugs and mental illness if you're trained in those areas,” Poafpybitty said. “If you have the training and expertise and being a police officer you're supposed to have that training."
According to Bearheels’ brothers, Bearheels was traveling back to Oklahoma from visiting his father in South Dakota when he was kicked off a bus and stranded in the Nebraska town where the incident occurred.
"If they were going to just let him go how come they didn't just let him go,” his brother, Robert Davenport Jr., asked.
“They physically punched my brother in the face over and over again and tased him over 12 times while he was still handcuffed," Mitchell Chalppah, Bearheels' other brother said.
Schmaderer has recommended for two of the officers to be fired, however, Bearheels’ family said that the two other officers should also be reprimanded. They have not yet said whether they plan to take legal action against the department.
For now, they are focused on making Bearheels' funeral arrangements, for which they have set up a GoFundMe account.
"He was just trying to come home,” Chalppah, the deceased’s brother, said. “That was it … he was just trying to come home."
Needless to say, this is yet another example added to the lengthy list of avoidable deaths which resulted from law enforcement officials abusing their power.
Neither inexperience nor lack of training can excuse these officers' blatant disregard for Bearheels' life. It is simply common sense that shocking any living being a dozen times is both inhumane and excessive.
We can only hope that the officers involved in this tragedy are penalized and justice is served for Bearheels and his family.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters