A man who had been involved in a vehicle and foot pursuit with Omaha police officers on Thursday apparently died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, investigators say.
Elijah Smith, 25, had abandoned his vehicle and was running from police in a brush area in the 3700 block of Cook Plaza on Thursday evening before officers reported hearing gunfire, according to a press release from the Omaha Police Department.
He reportedly was found lying on top of a .40-caliber firearm. Medics pronounced him dead at the scene, police said.
“All indications point to this being a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” the release says.
Officers were patrolling the area of 60th and Fort Streets at 6:37 p.m. Thursday when they saw a Honda Civic parked in a driveway that appeared similar to a vehicle used in a robbery and attempted robbery earlier in the week.
According to the release, the officers noticed damage to one of the car’s doors that matched damage sustained by the vehicle used in the robbery.
The Honda’s driver did not comply with officers when they attempted a traffic stop and continued north on 60th Street. Additional officers arrived to prevent the car from accessing Interstate 680.
The car eventually made its way to southbound Calhoun Road before turning west onto Cook Plaza, where it continued for about a half-mile. The driver slowed down and jumped from the vehicle while it was moving.
He ran through a brush area as officers pursued . At 6:47 p.m., an officer reported hearing gunfire. An autopsy determined that Smith was shot in the right side of his head.
Investigators found a spent .40-caliber casing about 20 feet away from Smith’s body, according to the release. The casing is from the same manufacturer as the casing recovered from a Jan. 9 robbery, and both casings were fired from the same gun, according to police.
None of the officers on scene fired their weapons, police said.
The involved officers were interviewed by the department’s officer-involved investigations team.
Body camera footage and cruiser video captured the vehicle and foot pursuit, but the shooting was not captured because of insufficient lighting and the distance between officers and Smith, the release says.
The investigation is ongoing and is being conducted by the officer-involved investigations team and the Nebraska State Patrol.
A grand jury will be convened to investigate, as required by law in any in-custody death.