'Cops' Crewmember Killed During Filming by Omaha Police Officer

AP Images
The crime scene from the Wendy's where a 'Cops' crewmember was killed late Monday

Sound technician was killed while filming an armed robbery

A crewmember embedded with Omaha police while filming the TV show Cops was fatally shot by police Tuesday night.

Bryce Dion, 38, a sound technician for the long-running show, was accidentally killed during the course of an armed robbery at an Omaha Wendy's, according to police. Dion oversaw the audio gear for the entire show, a rep for Langley Productions told THR.

Police originally responded to reports of a robbery at a nearby Little Caesar's, then arrived at Wendy's at around 9:20 p.m., requesting backup and looking for a suspect with a black hoodie and a white bandana, officers said.

The standoff between Omaha Police and the suspected robber, Cortez Washington

"Within 15 seconds, Officers Brooks Riley and Jason Wilhelm arrived. Officers Riley and Wilhelm were working in a two-officer car, accompanied by two employees, Michael Lee and Bryce Dion, of Langley Productions, the producers of the 'COPS' television program. Mr. Lee was operating the video camera and Mr. Dion was operating the sound equipment," Omaha Police said in a statement.

"Officers immediately confronted the robbery suspect, 32-year-old Cortez Washington, who was armed with a handgun. Multiple gunshots were fired inside of the Wendy's," according to the police statement. "The first two audible shots were from Mr. Washington. The officers returned fire."

The suspect was shot multiple times but was able to flee the fast food restaurant before collapsing and being handcuffed in the parking lot, police said. "Mr. Dion was also injured by a single gunshot and collapsed just inside the east doorway."

Three witnesses described the suspect holding the gun, firing at the detectives and seeing a recoil after the shots. "It has been determined that the handgun is an airsoft pistol that fires plastic pellet bullets. The airsoft pistol looks and functions like an actual firearm," police said. Both Dion and the suspect were pronounced dead at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The alleged robber used an airsoft handgun, which looked to cops like a real handgun

"We are deeply saddened and shocked by this tragedy and our main concern is helping his family in any way we can," Langley Productions, which produces Cops, said in a statement. "Bryce Dion was a long-term member of the Cops team and a very talented and dedicated person. We mourn his passing. An investigation is ongoing and we are cooperating with local authorities."

The cameraman, Lee, was not injured. Dion had worked on over 80 episodes on the show and has worked consistently in television since 2003, according to IMDb. His credits also include: Jail, Vice Squad, Conquering Kilimanjaro With Angie Everhart and Undercover Stings.

Cops, a reality series in which camera crews are embedded with law enforcement, has been shooting in Omaha since June. The series has been on the air since 1989.

The three officers in connection with the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave, per department policy following officer-involved shootings. Police say Washington was a parolee with a long criminal history, including a previous armed robbery arrest in Missouri.

Aug. 27, 3:09 p.m. Updated with additional details from Omaha Police and Langley Productions. Headline was changed.

Email: Soo.Youn@THR.com