Lawsuit: Omaha police beat man on street, threw woman out of wheelchair

Robby Soave Reporter
Font Size:

An Omaha family has filed a federal lawsuit against 33 officers of the city police department over a March incident in which members of the family were beaten on the street, abused in their home and subjected to an illegal search.

The incident took place on March 21, 2013. According to reports, police were responding to a parking dispute when they arrived at the Johnson home. Video footage shot from a second-floor window recorded one officer’s interaction with Octavius Johnson. The officer, Bradley Canterbury, tackled Johnson from behind, threw him to the ground and punched him, according to

According to the Johnson family, things only became worse after that. Officers raided the Johnson home and pursued Octavius’s brother, Juaquez Johnson. In the process, they knocked Sharon Johnson–an aunt of the two men–out of her wheelchair, according to the suit:

“Next thing I know an officer enters, throws my wheelchair and me out of the way. I end up with the wheelchair on top of me, my legs in the air. Several officers continued to walk over me as they entered the house. I eventually rolled my way into the living room and got myself upright. I saw Juaquez surrounded by officers and started asking what was going on. I ended up in handcuffs. It wasn’t until a family member came by later that I was able to get back into my wheelchair. I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I still have physical pain from that day.”

The Johnson family was cleared of any wrongdoing, and four police officers were fired for misbehavior during the incident. One officer, James Kinsella, was charged with wrongfully seizing data from the brothers’ camera in an attempt at a cover up.

Now, the family wants compensation for medical bills and damages that stemmed from the unjust raid. They also insist that the department should undergo training about the right of citizens to record encounters with police. Their suit against Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer — and 32 other officers — alleges excessive force and wrongful search and seizure. The Johnsons are being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

An attorney for the police department claimed the officers responsible had already been held accountable for their actions, according to local news.

Follow Robby on Twitter