An Omaha police supervisor has been placed on administrative leave as authorities continue to investigate the circumstances of a controversial arrest in north Omaha.
The World-Herald has learned that the command officer is Sgt. Aaron P. Von Behren, a 15-year department veteran and one-time recipient of the department's life-saving award.
The World-Herald also learned the identity of an officer who earlier was placed on administrative leave: James T. Kinsella, a veteran of nearly five years.
A total of three officers have been placed on leave, and two others remain reassigned from their normal duties, as part of the probe into the March 21 incident at 33rd and Seward Streets.
Word that a police supervisor was placed on leave came Monday morning as a group of residents rallied inside and outside of Central Police Headquarters and City Hall, calling for independent police oversight.
Dozens more met to voice their concerns Monday evening in north Omaha.
City Councilman Franklin Thompson said at the meeting that he was warming to the idea of reviving the city's dormant police auditor position.
“I'm 75 percent there, and I used to be at zero,” Thompson told the audience of about 70 people. “I'm evolving on this issue. ... I'm willing to listen.”
Earlier, law enforcement officers kept a close eye on about 40 protesters gathered at police headquarters and then marched to City Hall, where representatives of Mayor Jim Suttle and the City Council accepted a letter from the group outlining its complaints about police and demands for independent oversight.
Von Behren and Kinsella were among several officers who responded when an altercation over towing cars escalated into a top-priority “help an officer” radio call.
Police did not discuss whether the command officer — Von Behren — was at the scene of the incident. The department hasn't named any of the officers involved or described their roles in the incident.
Police say 28-year-old Octavious Johnson became combative after his car screeched to a halt in front of officers who were investigating cars parked curbside with expired plates.
A video shot from a nearby window shows Johnson being taken down, handcuffed and apparently struck multiple times by an officer. The widely distributed recording has led to allegations that officers used excessive force.
Officers also can be heard on the video yelling at Johnson's brother, Juaquez Johnson, who was on the sidewalk and yelling at officers. He also was recording the incident, a family member has said.
After Juaquez Johnson went inside a nearby house, several officers followed him and placed him under arrest on suspicion of obstruction. A third brother, Demetrius Johnson, was arrested on suspicion of obstructing police and for having an outstanding warrant.
Sharee Johnson, the men's mother, has obtained a form to file a misconduct allegation against the Police Department, but it was unclear Monday whether she had filed the formal complaint.
Police Chief Todd Schmaderer plans to announce findings of the department's internal investigation when it's completed, police said Monday.
Initially, police said three officers who first responded to the call were the focus of the internal investigation. The World-Herald learned last week that those three are Dyea L. Rowland and Matthew C. Worm, who were reassigned, and Bradley D. Canterbury, the third officer on paid administrative leave.
World-Herald staff writer Maggie O'Brien contributed to this report.
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Video of the March 21 incident
Warning: This video contains obscene language.
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