After Toddler Thug Video, Federal Lawsuit Draws More Attention to Omaha Police

Federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU this Monday alleges excessive force against OPD

By Carla Murphy Jan 10, 2014

Days after the Omaha police union helped publicize a shocking video showing a local African-American toddler swearing and being sworn at, Omaha police are back in the news. Two officers have been fired, the latest fallout from controversial arrests stemming from a parking dispute last March. That incident was also caught on video.

"A parking ticket turned into officers storming my house and me being thrown to the ground and put into a chokehold," Octavius Johnson says, according to a statement released by the ACLU of Nebraska. "When I was on the ground and police ran towards my house, I was worried about the family that raised me. I have seen incidents like this happen to other people. I now know that something like this could happen to not just my family, but any family."

A call from a tow-truck operator in front of the Johnson family home resulted in Omaha police dispatching at least 20 officers to the scene. After video of the arrests spread via YouTube, OPD immediately fired four officers.

A federal lawsuit filed earlier this week by the ACLU on behalf of the Johnson’s, alleges excessive force and illegal search and seizure. In addition to 32 police officers, the suit names police chief Todd Schmaderer who this week distanced his department from the union’s posting of the toddler video, saying: 

"I strongly disagree with any postings that may cause a divide in our community or an obstacle to police community relations."