An Omaha woman will stand trial on drug charges. But authorities couldn’t move forward Tuesday with allegations that she attempted to assault a police officer during her arrest.
The attorney for Jennifer Lovings, 36, asked for a preliminary hearing to determine if there is probable cause to charge his client with felony assault on an officer, operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest and use of a weapon to commit a felony. Douglas County assistant prosecutor Matt Kuhse successfully requested the charges be dismissed in county court in order to refile them later in district court.
Defense attorney James Martin Davis conceded that enough evidence exists for Lovings to stand trial on felony charges of possession of methamphetamine and conspiracy to distribute the drug. Lovings is being held on $1 million bail.
“We waived the right to the drug charges because there certainly is probable cause,” Davis said. “We want (the prosecution) to prove she should face trial for the other counts.”
The charges against Lovings stem from a March 8 incident in which her boyfriend, Jason Welch, died of injuries sustained in a police shooting. Welch, 34, died March 12, four days after police tried to arrest him and Lovings as part of a methamphetamine ring.
Police said Welch was a passenger in an SUV driven by Lovings. An undercover police officer in the parking lot of a Walgreens drugstore at 51st and Center Streets opened fire as officers tried to stop the vehicle.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine has said that preliminary findings indicate the officer’s actions were justified. A grand jury will determine whether the officer — who has not been named by the Police Department — will be charged. The next grand jury will be convened June 18.
Davis said his client is eager to appear before a grand jury to tell her side of the story.
“She is going to say it was an unjustified shooting and that (Welch) was never reaching for gun and she never tried to run an officer down,” Davis said.
Police arrested six people in addition to Lovings who they say were part of the conspiracy to sell meth. Officers searched three homes, seizing guns, $500,000 worth of meth and more than $95,000 in cash.
Officers said that when they approached Lovings and Welch in the SUV, the couple tried to flee. Police said Lovings rammed the SUV into several police vehicles and Welch appeared to be reaching for a gun.
No gun was found in the SUV. Davis said his client’s SUV was rammed by police vehicles and not the other way around.
The officer who opened fire was standing between the SUV and his vehicle, Police Chief Todd Schmaderer has said. Lovings was not in the SUV with the wounded Welch when police found it by using an electronic tracking device that a judge had approved. Lovings later called Davis, who arranged for her to turn herself in.
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