Indianz.Com Video by Kevin Abourezk: Rally for Justice: Micah Taylor

Native man shot by police officer mounts appeal after lengthy sentence

#NativeLivesMatter: 'As a mother, I’m just devastated'
Officer's bullet remains lodged in neck of Micah Taylor, Santee Sioux

A 21-year-old Santee Sioux man who was given 30-50 years in prison last month for assaulting an officer during a March 2018 encounter that ended with the young Native man getting shot in the neck is appealing his conviction.

Micah Taylor’s attorney Gregory Pivovar filed the appeal Monday with the Nebraska Supreme Court. The appeal claims Taylor’s attorney, James Martin Davis, failed to properly represent him.

On September 9, Douglas County District Court Judge Thomas A. Otepka gave Taylor nearly the maximum sentence for assaulting an officer, a Class II felony, which Taylor plead guilty to committing in April.

In explaining his decision to give Taylor such an extreme sentence, Otepka said the officer who was injured in the encounter suffered a shoulder injury and had to undergo both rotator cuff and hip surgery. The officer continues to undergo physical therapy.

“It resulted in injuries that resulted in surgery,” the judge said of the incident.

Indianz.Com Video by Kevin Abourezk: An uncomfortable position - The shooting of Micah Taylor

Otepka also sentenced Taylor to 1-2 years for fleeing arrest.

During his sentencing, Taylor told Otepka that he was sorry for what happened the day he was pulled over and shot and promised to never do anything like it again.

“I am very sorry to the police officer that I hurt,” he said. “I accept full responsibility for what I did.”

Taylor continues to suffer from the bullet that was lodged in the back of his neck after Officer Dave Staskiewicz shot him when he attempted to drive away.

Taylor’s mother DeAnna Taylor said she feels deceived by her son’s attorney, Davis, who she said convinced her son to plead guilty to assaulting an officer and to drop a federal civil rights lawsuit he had filed against the City of Omaha for shooting him in the neck when he was unarmed, all in the hopes of gaining leniency from Judge Otepka.

“I borrowed $10,000 because I thought this man wanted to fight injustice,” she said. “He didn’t even try. He tried to hurt my son. I want my money back.”

Micah Taylor is seen here with two of his spiritual mentors, John Pappan, left and Dr. Rudi Mitchell, right. Courtesy photo

As part of his guilty plea, Taylor admitted to having sold a half-pound of marijuana to another man prior to his arrest on March 8, 2018.

Not long after that marijuana sale, Staskiewicz stopped Taylor as he drove his Toyota Camry in north Omaha following.

The officer asked Taylor for his license, registration and insurance, but Taylor initially refused. He eventually handed over the items, and the officer then asked him to step out of his car. Again, police say, Taylor refused.

Staskiewicz then opened Taylor’s car door and tried to pull him out, but Taylor struggled to pull away from him, according to police. While holding Taylor’s arm, the officer stepped back and drew his gun. Taylor then began driving away, which led to the officer being pulled alongside his vehicle, according to police.

The officer then fired three rounds as he was being dragged and fell to the ground.

#NativeLivesMatter: Native Americans are more likely to be killed by law enforcement

Taylor, injured, drove south on the interstate with officers in pursuit until he struck stop sticks laid out by another officer and his vehicle struck a concrete median and came to rest in a shoulder area.

Police then took him into custody.

The entire traffic stop, from the time the officer pulled Taylor over to when Taylor drove away, lasted less than two minutes.

But Taylor has contradicted the police department’s description of the traffic stop that led to him being shot.

He told Indianz.Com last year that the officer never told him why he pulled him over, and Taylor immediately became concerned that he was being racially profiled. When the officer told him to get out, Taylor said he refused and asked to speak to his attorney instead.

DeAnna Taylor is shown here in her Bellevue, Nebraska, home in March 2018. Her son, Micah Taylor, was shot in the neck by a police officer in Omaha, Nebraska. Photo by Kevin Abourezk

He said he reached for his phone to call his lawyer, but then the officer fired a shot from his handgun, striking him in the neck.

He said he doesn’t know why the officer began shooting at him, but he wonders whether the officer thought his phone was a gun.

He said the bullet that the officer fired that struck his neck is still there, lodged dangerously close to his spine. So close that an emergency room doctor told him he wouldn’t remove the bullet because doing so might lead to Taylor becoming permanently paralyzed.

DeAnna Taylor said she recently received copies of aerial footage from the police helicopter that hovered above the traffic stop. She said she was frustrated that she wasn’t able to view the footage until after her son’s sentencing.

The footage, she said, shows confirms her son’s version of events, including the fact that Officer Staskiewicz was not dragged but rather chose to hold onto her son’s hand rather than let go.

“He was not dragged,” DeAnna Taylor said. “Micah did not intentionally use his car to hurt the officer. That was all a lie.”

And the video shows the officer ran back to his cruiser, despite later police assertions that he had to be helped back to his vehicle, she said.

She said she has never seen bodycam footage from Staskiewicz, though Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said he cleared Staskiewicz for shooting Micah Taylor based on that footage.

She said she is hopeful her son’s sentence can be reduced or his conviction overturned once an appellate judge is able to view all the evidence from the traffic stop.

She said she and her son believed his attorney’s advice that if he plead guilty to assaulting an officer and dropped his civil rights lawsuit he would get a lenient sentence from Judge Otepka.

“As a mother, I’m just devastated,” she said. “I don’t know what to say. He doesn’t deserve this


Native Americans are more likely to be killed by law enforcement than any other racial or ethnic group, according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Native man shot in neck by police officer hit with maximum sentence (September 10, 2019)
'That’s first-degree murder': Lakota father seeks justice for son slain by police officer (May 1, 2019)
Native man shot by police officer drops lawsuit in plea deal with prosecutors (April 24, 2019)
Lakota man shot and killed by police officer inside a church (April 22, 2019)
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Are we letting the police become more violent? (March 12, 2019)
'They beat this man to death': Activists question lack of charges against police officers (March 5, 2019)
Former police officer won't face charges for death of Native man (March 1, 2019)
Judge delays trial for fired police officer accused in Native man's death (January 14, 2019)
Native man shot in neck by police officer faces charges for incident (January 7, 2019)
Mayor offers apology after jury clears officer in Lakota man's death (December 20, 2018)
Video: Mother of Native man who died after police encounter speaks (December 11, 2018)
'They're on trial, too': Fired officer blames Native man's family for death (December 10, 2018)
Fired police officer mounts defense in Native man's death (December 6, 2018)
Fired police officer violated policy by repeatedly shocking Native man (December 5, 2018)
'I can't breathe!': Video shows moments before Native man's death (December 3, 2018)
Jury watches video of Native man getting shocked and beaten (November 30, 2018)
Testimony continues in case of officer on trial for death of Native man (November 29, 2018)
Former police officer on trial for death of Native man (November 27, 2018)
'We do not go away': Native community protests racism and aggression (May 14, 2018)
'Why wasn't his dash cam on?' Native community demands accountability from police (May 4, 2018)
Fired police officer won't go to trial for death of Native man until next year (April 20, 2018)
Young Santee Sioux man shot by police officer while being dragged on ground (April 5, 2018)
Grand jury seeks another charge against officer accused in Native man's death (December 6, 2017)
Native community demands justice for Lakota man who died in police encounter (November 29, 2017)
Two police officers charged with assault for death of Rosebud Sioux citizen (July 27, 2017)
Rosebud Sioux man dies after being tased and struck by police officers (July 17, 2017)