Charges Dismissed Against Officer In Bearheels Death

The Douglas County Attorney says he is dismissing the misdemeanor assault charge against one of two officers involved in the 2017 incident that led to the in-custody death of Zachary Bearheels near 60th and Center

Former Omaha Police Officer Ryan McClarty was charged after Bearheels was beaten and tased repeatedly during a struggle with officers outside a gas station in summer 2017. Bearheels suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Kleine says after a thorough analysis of local and national expert witnesses and the review of audio and video taken from the scene "we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that McClarty was not justified in his actions."

Kleine says "We will continue to work with the Omaha Police Department as we have in the past to ensure officers are receiving the training they need to better handle these types of situations."

A grand jury charged McClarty and former Officer Scotty Payne, who were both fired last July. Investigators say Payne shocked Bearheels with a taser a dozen times and McClarty punched him 13 times. A jury found Payne found not guilty.

The Omaha Police Department released a statement saying they are aware the decision to dismiss criminal charges against McClarty. "This decision does not affect Chief Schmaderer’s decision to terminate Ryan McClarty’s employment. That decision was due to a myriad of circumstances beyond the criminal charges initially filled. McClarty will still be afforded the right to appeal his termination."

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