A crew member of the TV show Cops was inadvertently shot and killed while taping Omaha police officers attempt to breakup a robbery, Omaha police said on Wednesday. Police officers returned fire when a suspect shot what turned out to be a pellet gun during a robbery at a Wendy’s on Tuesday night. At least 30 shots were fired during the confrontation, the Omaha World Herald reports, one of which struck Cops sound technician Bryce Dion. The 38-year-old was wearing a bulletproof vest while trailing officers during the robbery, but, according to police, “a single bullet that hit his arm ‘slipped into a gap in the vest’ and entered his chest,” the Associated Press reports.
Here’s more from the AP:
The suspect fired from the pellet gun before officers returned fire, Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said at a news conference. He said witnesses and officers thought the robbery suspect's Airsoft handgun looked and sounded real, but discovered later that it fires only plastic pellets. The suspect was struck by the officers' gunfire, but fled outside of the restaurant before collapsing.
Schmaderer said video captured by another crew member of the "Cops" TV show shows the chaotic situation in the restaurant … Schmaderer said the incident began when one of the officers, on his way to another reported robbery, called about the robbery at the Wendy's and requested backup. The "Cops" crew members were with two officers who responded to that request. When police entered the restaurant and confronted the suspect, Dion, who was the sound operator, got separated from the cameraman, Schmaderer said.
Dion and the suspect were both killed; neither the cameraman nor any police officers were injured during the shooting. The reality TV show has been filming in Omaha throughout the summer and Schmaderer “had hoped that the TV show’s taping of Omaha police in action would improve relations with community members,” according to the World Herald. CNN’s Brian Stelter reports Dion is “believed to be the first member of the 'Cops' production staff killed in the 25-year history of the television show.”