Judge: Police acted 'reasonably' in man's shooting death

Todd Schmaderer, Jean StothertThe Associated Press
FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2014, file photo, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer pauses during a news conference at police headquarters in Omaha, Neb., with Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, left. Bryce Dion, a sound technician with the "Cops" television show who was embedded with Omaha police, was killed during an armed robbery at a Wendy's fast-food restaurant. A Nebraska judge has dismissed a wrongful death case brought by the family of Dion. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

A Nebraska judge dismissed a wrongful death case brought by the family of a sound technician for the TV show "Cops" who was killed by police during a robbery at a fast-food restaurant.

Police killed Bryce Dion during a shootout when officers confronted a robber at an Omaha Wendy's in August 2014, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

Dion, 38, was on a ride-along when police also killed the robber, Cortez Washington.

Douglas County District Judge Jim Masteller wrote in Thursday's ruling that officers with the Omaha Police Department acted "reasonably" when they fatally shot Dion because Washington was an "imminent threat" when he pointed a gun at them.

"Those officers were forced to make split-second decisions in their use of deadly force under circumstances that were tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving," Masteller wrote in the ruling.

Three officers fired a total of 36 shots at the scene. One of those bullets slipped through a gap in the armpit of the bulletproof vest Dion was wearing, and he died.

"However, this calculation does not make Bryce Dion's death any less tragic," wrote Masteller, referring to his conclusion. "In addition to being a loving son and brother, Bryce Dion was undoubtedly courageous and a credit to his profession."

Dion's family attorney Brian Jorde opposed the ruling. He questioned whether it was appropriate of the officers to fire 36 shots, 24 of which were at Washington, he said.

But Masteller agreed with city officials who said the police officers were justified in continuing to fire.

"The officers continued to discharge their firearms at Washington after he lowered his firearm, exited the restaurant and ran through the parking lot because they believed that he continued to pose a threat to their lives and the lives of others as he was fleeing," Masteller wrote.

Jorde said he will discuss an appeal with Dion's family.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com