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

Two police officers charged with assault for death of Rosebud Sioux citizen





Two police officers in Nebraska have been charged with assault in connection with the death of a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

Zachary Bearheels, 29, died on June 5 after being shocked with a stun gun 12 times and punched repeatedly. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said he was assaulted by two officers, Scotty Payne and Ryan McClarty.

"In this encounter, in the early morning hours of June 5, Zachary Bearheels had committed no crime," Kleine said during a press conference posted by KETV NewsWatch 7. "He was simply a human being suffering from a severe mental illness that was quite obvious to anyone who was in contact with him."

During the press conference, Kleine displayed video clips taken from a police cruiser. They showed Bearheels being struck repeatedly by the officers. At one point, he was dragged on the ground by his hair, which was in a ponytail.

"Come on, why can't you just get in a car," one officer -- identified by The Omaha World-Herald as Jennifer Strudl -- can be heard saying on one of the clips.

KETV NewsWatch 7on YouTube: Attorney Don Kleine to files assault charges against 2 officers

Even though several officers were on the scene, only Payne and McClarty were charged. Payne is facing second-degree assault charged while McClarty, whom The World-Herald identified as the one who dragged Bearheels by the hair, is facing third-degree assault charges.

Following the incident, both officers were fired but both are appealing, The World-Herald reported. Previously, police chief Todd Schmaderer said his department "failed" and "made a mistake" in its treatment of Bearheels.

Bearheels was on his way via bus 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:
'We are people too': Native Americans critical of county attorney, police in wake of Bearheels' death (The Omaha World-Herald 7/27)
2 former Omaha police officers charged with assault in death of mentally ill man (The Omaha World-Herald 7/27)
Omaha police union response to charges in Bearheels death (The Omaha World-Herald 7/26)
2 Nebraska officers face assault charges in man’s death (AP 7/26)
Officers being charged with assault in Bearheels case (WOWT 7/26)
2 Police Officers Are Charged in Assault of Mentally Ill Man (The New York Times 7/26)

Related Stories:
Rosebud Sioux man dies after being tased and struck by police officers (July 17, 2017)