A veteran crew member on the long-running reality television series “Cops” was shot and killed Tuesday night during taping of a police shootout with a robbery suspect at a Wendy’s restaurant in Omaha, Neb., Deadline.com reports.
Sound supervisor Bryce Dion, who was wearing a ballistic vest, was killed by what the Omaha police chief described as “friendly fire.” The robbery suspect, who reportedly had a pellet gun, was also killed in the shootout.
The “Cops” crew was with police officers who responded to a report of an armed robbery at about 9:20 p.m. local time. The crew had reportedly been shooting in Omaha for much of the summer.
At a press conference, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said: “This was a friendly fire situation. It was an officer’s round that struck Mr. Dion.”
The report adds: “Dion got caught in the gunfire when he became stuck in the vestibule and the officers were not aware he was there, Schmaderer said. Dion was wearing a ballistic vest, but the bullet ‘came in under his left arm and slipped in between the vest, where there is an open area.’”
Media in the area reported that about 30 shots were fired by officers at the scene.
“Schmaderer declined to confirm that because, he said, ‘it is the subject of a grand jury investigation,'” Deadline reports. “But he added the reporters’ ‘inference’ is that the number of shots fired by the three police officers who went into the restaurant was excessive, ‘and I don’t believe it was.’ He vehemently denied suggestions the hail of bullets suggests the police were showing off for the ‘Cops’ camera.”
Said Schmaderer: “Any criticism is unmerited. The grand jury will see this video and I’m confident they will come to same conclusion.” He indicated that footage shot by the “Cops” crew had been handed over to investigators.
The report adds: “The police chief had asked ‘Cops’ to come to town to follow his officers this summer. In June, local media reported he hoped the TV show’s taping of his force in action would improve relations with the community. Today he got asked about that and replied, ‘We had some rough times and we had an issue that occurred about a year and a half ago.’ He said he’d asked the reality series to spend the summer with his force ‘to put a period on the past and show how professional and adept we are.’”
John Langley, one of the creators of “Cops,” said Dion, who was with the show for seven years, “was a very talented guy and he did something he loved and was passionate about. We’ve been very fortunate over the years that we’ve never had an incident like this. Unfortunately this happened and we’re dealing with it and it’s a very sad day for us.”