Omaha's human resources director supports Police Chief Alex Hayes' recommendation to fire two officers involved in the controversial May arrest of an Omaha man, The World-Herald has learned.
Human Resources Director Richard O'Gara presided over separate closed-door due process hearings with Officers Jackie Dolinsky and Aaron Pennington, along with their legal representatives, earlier this month.
Hayes will make a final ruling on whether to fire the officers or impose other discipline after reviewing O'Gara's opinion. Hayes was to receive that opinion by the end of the week.
Hayes, O'Gara and the head of Omaha's police union declined to comment Thursday.
Both officers will receive written notice of Hayes' final decision and then would have the option of appealing to an independent arbitrator or the city's personnel board.
Controversy erupted after security video footage showed officers forcefully taking Robert A. Wagner, 35, into custody on May 29 outside Creighton University Medical Center after he allegedly had refused orders to leave the hospital and punched one officer in the head.
At one point in the approximately five-minute clip, an officer kicks Wagner repeatedly while several officers pin him on the ground. Officers also used a Taser to subdue Wagner.
After the footage became public, outraged community activists raised concerns about the officers' perceived use of excessive force and renewed calls for a public safety auditor. However, Hayes has said command officers immediately flagged the incident for review.
Pennington and Dolinsky were both placed on administrative leave at the beginning of September and informed of the chief's decision to pursue their termination. Dolinsky has served with the department since 2007; Pennington, since 2006.
Under the police contract, officers can be disciplined for offenses including abusive or improper treatment to a person in custody unless the action was necessary for self-defense, to protect the lives of others or to prevent a suspect's escape.
Discipline can include a written reprimand, suspension without pay, demotion or firing.
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