Zachary Bearheels, 1987-2017, is pictured on the left in this photo posted on Facebook.
Law | National

Rosebud Sioux man dies after being tased and struck by police officers





A citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe died last month after being repeatedly shocked with a Taser gun and hit by police officers in Omaha, Nebraska.

Zachary Bearheels, 29, died on June 5 after his run-in with the officers. The Omaha World-Herald identified officer Scotty Payne as the one who used his Taser 12 times on Bearheels.

Officer Ryan McClarty hit Bearheels at least 15 times, the paper said. Bearheels also was dragged by his ponytail during the incident.

“In this incident, despite our extensive training, we failed,” police chief Todd Schmaderer said at a press conference last month, the paper reported. “The Omaha Police Department made a mistake on this occasion, and we’re doing whatever we need to to correct it.”

Schmaderer is recommending Payne and McClarty be fired. Charges are possible -- evidence is being presented to a grand jury in Douglas County in September, WOWT reported.

According to the station, the police department has some video of the incident but has not released it. There is no body-cam imagery because Payne had his device turned off in violation of policy, The World-Herald reported last month.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, who was sworn into office for a second term on the day Bearheels died, plans to create a Native advisory board and to seek cultural sensitivity training for police officers as a result of the incident, The World-Herald reported. Less than 1 percent of the population in the city is Native, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Bearheels was on his way to his home in Oklahoma when he died. He was laid to rest at his family's plot there last month.

Bearheels is Rosebud Sioux from his father's side. His mother is from the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Tribe, according to news reports.

Read More on the Story:
Nebraska ACLU calls for "independent review" of autopsy for mentally-ill man who died in OPD custody (WOWT 7/16)
Stothert will create Native American advisory board, police will get culture sensitivity training after man's death (The Omaha World-Herald 7/13)
7 in-custody deaths to be reviewed by grand jury in September (WOWT 7/12)
Ambiguous autopsy may hamper charges in death of man Omaha police shocked 12 times with Taser (The Omaha World-Herald 7/7