Hidden Third Cameraman Proves Crucial in Nebraska Photographer-Abuse Case

Take a look at the photograph above. It shows a former police officer in an orange jumpsuit making a court appearance to face a felony charge of evidence tampering, as well as misdemeanor obstruction and theft. I hope that police around the nation will see this image (which comes from here) and realize that this is what can happen when they try to seize and destroy photographs or video taken by others.

The charges arise from an incident—now subject of a lawsuit by the ACLU of Nebraska—that started when a man, Octavius Johnson, questioned why his family’s cars were being towed, and ended up with excessive force, a warrantless search and seizure, and the charges mentioned above. Although two of Johnson’s brothers filmed the incident, it may well have never come to light had not a third person, filming from an upper window in a house across the street, also recorded the incident (YouTube video here).

By now we’re used to seeing far too many videos of unnecessary and excessive force by officers. What is extra-shocking in this video is the wanton violation of the centuries-old common law rule that “a man’s home is his castle,” which was incorporated into the Constitution through the Fourth Amendment. Viewing dozens of officers streaming into a man’s private home with no warrant (and no emergency circumstance) is a dismaying indicator of either a gross lack of training, or a feeling on the part of these officers that they could violate the Constitution with impunity, probably because they were operating in an African-American neighborhood.

Like many such videos, this one went viral, received some national attention, and brought a heap of trouble down on the officers involved, four of whom were fired and two of whom are facing charges.

The other thing that is disturbing is that without that third camera recording the incident, it’s likely that none of this would have come to light, after officers inside the house took the two brothers’ cameras. Unless, of course, one of the 28 officers involved did their job as a law enforcement officer and enforced the law by revealing the wrongdoing of their fellow officers. I’m not sure many people would put much faith in that happening, in which case without that third video this family might have filed a complaint, and faced a he-said/she-said situation in which the larger community would have given the police the benefit of the doubt.

Finally, I would note that these police had clearly learned how dangerous cameras can be to officers that violate rights, since they made suppressing the photographic evidence such a priority, and indeed lost their jobs over it. But if police can seize two cameras and still get caught by a third, that also suggests that we may be approaching a point where police come to recognize that abuse anywhere in public is simply too risky for them.

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How are THEY going to realize it when they work UNDER politicians who seem to ALWAYS operate under that assumption.

The politician I'm thinking of works in Arizona and she did something, probably at the advice of her attorney, to get out from under a law suit and didn't care who she was willing to hurt as long as HER butt was somehow freed from the situation. Which eventually, it WON'T be but that's the beauty of people who think like her and Lord Voldemort.

When she said in the book "Lord Voldemort spends little to no time finding out that which does not interest him," she wasn't kidding.
Their own arrogance will be their downfall every time and is their worst enemy.

Diane Hayes, Om...

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE: I am a middle aged, white female, well educated, middle class professional and have lived in Omaha all my life and even I don't have any faith in the Omaha Police Department. We have been designated the "Mississippi of the Midwest" for thirty years. The person previously in charge of the State Crime Lab is currently doing time in prison for tampering with evidence. This comes as no surprise to any of us who live here. There is no area in the country more in need of federal oversight for our local law enforcement than right here in the heartland.


If the first officer(s) to chase the fleeing suspect(?) into the home was trying to effect an arrest, it's permitted (in law) to pursue even into the next state or country (hot pursuit). The other officers (later) may have been responding to an 'officer in distress' call which provides similar carte blanche. But, they're not being charged with any of that. They're being charged with destroying/tampering with evidence...to save their own skins in this instance. It didn't work.


It unfortunately wont stop the widespread and endemic abuse by those in positions of authority. Welcome to the police state. It's going to get much worse...

Vicki B.

Except when it's about f**n GUNS, in which case a castle being your home becomes tantamount to something that belongs in an Americanized version of the Magna freakin' CARTA.

I have no problem with SOME people having a firearm or multiples of one. I'm not even all on board with banning semiautomatic and automatic weapons, b/c I believe bans in general make something way more interesting only because it was banned in the first place and for no other reason.

But all this jackass hypocrisy has to go, or I'm at the very least going to remind them that castles being your home mean everything in the WORLD to them when they want to live with a gun in one.
But not, I guess, when it's the home of someone you just don't like, huh?
A person with that attitude DOESN'T NOT DESERVE to be given a legal right to walk around with a gun on them.


That is not "an orange jumpsuit" it is just an orange shirt and orange pants. A jumpsuit is all one piece of clothing...

Target 4Tyrants

Let us hope he goes into Bubba's cell & leaves it not knowing if he is farting or yawning.


This is getting out of control all over the country, and its happening to all races, politicans in these cities need to stay out of it and let the judge and jury do it's job, but it will never happen because these cities dont like law suits so they cover up for the dirty cops, HOW LONG DO THEY THINK THEY CAN KEEP DOING THIS BEFORE THE PUBLIC STARTS FIGHTING BACK, these officers that think there above the law dont realize how bad it makes there brothers out there look , what were punks bullied in high school. grow up if you want to wear a badge be professional or turn it in, you make others look terrible


This won't end until police officers (and public officials ala Christie Bridgegate) also become personally responsible for the financial ramifications of abusive conduct. As it stands now taxpayers end up footing the bill when abuse lawsuits are settled. Laws isolating public officials from financial liability must be rescinded. Nearly all non-publicly funded professionals must carry errors and omissions insurance. It's time tax payer funded professionals be expected to carry E&O. Just as all other insurance products the cost will be reflective of the past history of the insured.


My phone takes still shots and video. (Whose doesn't, these days?)

I have an app called Qik, which uploads your footage and stills somewhere. Later it will email you so you can download your shots. But there will be nothing at all for the piggies to see on my camera. Nothing but some blurry shots of a chupacabra I took late one night after an evening of partying hard.

It's free. I recommend it. They may take my camera, but they will NEVER TAKE MY FOOTAGE!


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