Taser Specialist Testifies At Trial Of Former Omaha Police Officer

The trial of former Omaha Police Officer Scotty Payne has entered its second week, and with it has come testimony from a taser expert who says he believed the use of a taser was the correct course of action.

Omaha Police Officer David Staskiewicz, is a Taser master instructor, and when he took the stand, he shed some light on how tasers are used and how they can affect a person. "If they're emotionally disturbed, they're not feeling pain and they may react differently to it and so you can't really say that everyone acts the same."

Staskiewicz spent nearly two weeks putting together a report on Payne's taser use during the course of the investigation, but he told the jury he never got to present his findings to the county attorney. While talking with other officers during his review, he mentioned in passing that he didn't believe Payne was in the wrong when he deployed the taser twelve times. 

The taser expert says he believes Payne's actions were correct because the taser was not properly attached to Bear Heels, meaning nearly all of the deployments did not work. The reason for the malfunction? One of the prongs of the taser had dislodged and would be found in Bear Heels' shorts by a paramedic tending to the man shortly before his death. Staskiewicz says he did take issue with the final taser deployment, which came as Bear Heels was seated, motionless, on the ground up against the rear tire of a police cruiser. Payne could be heard on video saying, “You’re going to get it again."

After sharing his findings with other law enforcement experts on the investigation team, Staskiewicz says they agreed with him, that the deployments were reasonable. That's when he says he was removed from the team investigating Bear Heels' death, just a day before he was to present his findings to Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine. 

He says he also believes Payne was reasonable in his actions because of what he could be heard on body cam footage saying at the hospital. Staskiewicz says Payne could be heard saying "Taser didn't even work on that guy. I kept trying to get some good hits."

In court, Payne's defense attorney Steve Lefler asked Staskiewicz why what Payne said was important. Staskiewicz reply, “It shows the mentality and the philosophy of the officer."

Lefler, in a follow-up question: “Does it show he had no intent to try to hurt Mr. Bear Heels?”

Staskiewicz's answer: “That would be my assumption, yes.”

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