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article image'Cops' crew member killed while filming armed robbery

By Greta McClain     Aug 28, 2014 in Crime
Omaha - A crew member with the widely popular television show Cops was shot and killed while filming officers responding to an armed robbery call.
At approximately 9:20 p.m. local time, officers with the Omaha Police Department responded to an armed robbery call at a local Wendy's. Upon arriving at the scene officers encountered 32-year-old Cortez Washington, a parole from Missouri. Washington, dressed all in black, pointed what appeared to be a handgun at officers. Fearing for their safety, officers fired at Washington, striking him numerous times.
Also struck by gunfire was 38-year-old Bryce Dion, sound supervisor and seven-year veteran of the Cops production crew. Dion was accompanying officers while filming a segment for the television show.
During a news conference Wednesday, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer told reporters the gun carried by Washington was actually an Airsoft pellet gun. According to the Washington Post, officers believed the pellet gun to be loaded with actual live ammunition and began firing at Washington. As Washington began to exit the restaurant, he entered the vestibule where Dion was positioned. Officers continued to fire at Washington, and one of the bullets struck Dion. Although Dion was wearing a bullet proof vest, the round managed to enter an opening in the vest.
Schmaderer described the incident, saying:
"Three individuals inside of Wendy's witnessed Mr. Washington holding a handgun, and discharge the handgun directly at detective Cunningham and Officer Riley. The witnesses described hearing the suspect's handgun being fired and seeing the slide recoil with the shots. The first two audible shots were from Mr. Washington. When they encountered the suspect and gunfire ensued, and Mr. Washington is on his way out, they are returning fire and Bryce is in the vestibule and gets struck by a round."
Schmaderer also confirmed that the round the struck Dion was fired by police, saying:
"This was a friendly fire situation. It was an officer’s round that struck Mr. Dion."
Schmaderer also said that based on the restaurant's security camera video, officers had no choice but to fire at Washington.
Washington and Dion were transported to an area hospital, where they were later pronounced dead.
Roxanna Galloway, assistant manager of the Wendy's, was working at the restaurant when the robbery occurred. She told KETV:
"He pointed (a gun) at me and told me to get all the money. I was typing in my numbers to get into the register and open it. That's when the cops came inside. I am glad the cops came when they did. (At) that point it was technically like I was a hostage."
John Langley, president of Langley Productions who produces the show, called Cops a true reality show that isn't "managed" or "staged". He went on to say:
"It's all true and it’s real and it happens as it happens and unfortunately that's our highlight and our low-light this particular instance."
Washington had a long criminal history, including being arrested for drug possession, fleeing from police, and criminal damage to property. He was on parole in Missouri for robbery.
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