Nearly 50 supporters chanting “No justice, no peace,” accompanied Sharee Johnson into Omaha Police Headquarters on Sunday afternoon as she obtained a form to report officer misconduct.
Johnson is alleging police brutality in the arrests of her sons Octavious Johnson, 28, Juaquez Johnson, 23, and Demetrius Johnson, 22, on Thursday near 33rd and Seward Streets.
She said she already has been interviewed by detectives from the internal affairs unit, and they advised her to file a formal complaint.
“We need real change in the Police Department,” Johnson told supporters outside the headquarters.
“I want you to have an encounter with police where you feel like justice is served. I want you to have an encounter that does not look like you might die.”
Sharee Johnson and members of the Omaha Justice Alliance said they were outraged by a video of the arrests taken by a neighbor and posted on YouTube. The video shows Octavious Johnson being taken down, handcuffed and apparently punched three times by an officer.
Officers can be heard on the video yelling at Juaquez Johnson, who was on the sidewalk videotaping the incident.
Police say Octavious Johnson became combative after his car screeched to a halt in front of officers who were investigating cars with expired license plates that were parked on the street. After Juaquez Johnson went inside a nearby house, several officers raced after him and placed him under arrest on suspicion of obstruction.
Sharon Johnson, the men's aunt, told The World-Herald that police told Juaquez Johnson to stop videotaping the incident. He ran inside the house to get away from them, and police followed to get the video, she said.
Demetrius Johnson was arrested on suspicion of obstructing police and having an outstanding warrant.
Sam Walker, professor emeritus of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, was among those gathered at Omaha Police Headquarters on Sunday.
He told the crowd that he emailed the video of the incident to a unit at the U.S. Justice Department that investigates police departments.
“They very quickly acknowledged they had received it, and I got a strong sense that it has already been looked at,” Walker said. “I am optimistic because I got such a quick response.”
Walker said what happened Thursday was a microcosm of problems within the Police Department. It was “a small incident that quickly escalated out of control” because of a lack of supervision, Walker said.
Willie Hamilton of the NAACP and Black Men United encouraged the crowd to engage city leaders and to demand changes in the department.
Hamilton also said he was thrilled by the turnout on a cold and windy day. “I'm really pleased with this diverse group of individuals here,” Hamilton said. “This is bigger than a north Omaha problem. There are people here from all over.”
Police Chief Todd Schmaderer promised during a press conference Saturday to oversee a thorough investigation of the allegations of brutality and intimidation.
Three officers, whose names have not been released, have been reassigned until the probe is concluded.
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