US reality show Cops goes wrong as police kill robber and TV crewman

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 August, 2014, 10:17pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 August, 2014, 10:18pm


Police officers who opened fire while disrupting a robbery at a fast-food restaurant in the US Midwest killed a crew member on the long-running television show Cops as well as the suspect, who was armed with a pellet gun they thought was a real handgun, authorities said.

The suspect fired the pellet gun before officers returned fire during the incident in Omaha, Nebraska, on Tuesday, police chief Todd Schmaderer said. He said witnesses and officers thought the robbery suspect's handgun looked and sounded real, but discovered later that it fired only plastic pellets.

Cops is a reality TV show that has depicted police in action since it premiered in 1989.

The suspect, whom police identified as 32-year-old Cortez Washington, was struck by the officers' gunfire, but fled from the restaurant before collapsing. Officers continued firing on the suspect as he exited the restaurant, and that was when Cops crew member Bryce Dion, 38, was also shot.

Dion was wearing a bulletproof vest, but a single bullet that hit his arm "slipped into a gap in the vest" and went into his chest, Schmaderer said.

"My concern with my officers is that they are taking this very hard," Schmaderer said. "Bryce was their friend."

Executives with Langley Productions, which makes Cops, said this was the first time one of their crew members had been fatally shot while filming.

In 2010, a crew member on the A&E reality show The First 48 recorded a Detroit police raid in which a seven-year-old girl was accidentally killed by an officer.

That incident highlighted concerns about whether television cameras influence police behaviour, perhaps encouraging showboating.