LPD officers used excessive force, investigation finds

2014-05-03T20:00:00Z 2014-05-06T18:16:04Z LPD officers used excessive force, investigation findsBy JONATHAN EDWARDS / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Two officers used excessive force in separate incidents, leading one to quit and another to face a disciplinary committee, Lincoln Police Department internal investigators said.

An officer was escorting an inmate whose hands were cuffed behind his back at the Lancaster County jail at about 1:10 the morning of Dec. 13, Sgt. Robert Farber said in a report to the mayor’s Citizens Police Advisory Board this week.

Jail video showed that the officer shoved the man into the far wall of his cell, and the inmate hit his head and collapsed to the floor, Farber said. He was taken to a hospital, where doctors treated him for a cut to his head.

Jail staff watched the video and reported the officer’s force was excessive, and Police Chief Jim Peschong ordered an investigation.

The officer told internal affairs investigators he pushed the inmate because he was worried the man would try to turn and continue fighting with him and another officer.

Investigators talked with jail staff and the other officer, who saw what happened. They sustained the complaint against the officer, who quit the force before facing a disciplinary hearing.

In the second incident, a video captured footage of an officer shoving a man into a wall at the People’s City Mission and then throwing him across the room on March 23, Farber said. The two struggled until the officer subdued the man and took him into custody with the help of another officer.

Peschong watched a copy of the video and ordered an investigation, Farber said in his report to the advisory board.

Investigators determined the force used was unreasonable and unnecessary and sustained the complaint after talking with the officers, witnesses and some of the department’s current and former defensive tactics instructors.

Peschong and City Attorney Rod Confer declined to release the names of the officers involved in the complaints. Confer said they're personnel matters, thus shielded from the state’s public records laws.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7395 or jedwards@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSEdwards.

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