A Nebraska cop who shot at a fleeing vehicle, striking its driver in the abdomen, has been charged with felony assault after it was revealed he lied about what had taken place.
And it was only because the June 5 incident was recorded on his dash cam.
Kearney police officer Derek Payton claimed the driver, Jose Klich, backed into him before driving off, making him fear for his life, an excuse that is usually accepted without question.
And his dash cam video did show the vehicle striking Payton, but not hard enough to cause him to shoot because he then walked up to the passenger window with his gun drawn, threatening to shoot Klich and his passenger.
And when the vehicle continued to move forward, Payton fired three times into the car – even though his life was not directly in danger nor was he standing in the path of the car.
Two bullets entered through the front windshield, one bullet entered through the rear window.
Officer Payton’s in-car camera shows Officer Payton walking up to the rear of the Pontiac and stopping several feet behind the car. At that point, the officer has his weapon drawn and pointed toward the people inside the Pontiac.
Officer Payton yells, “Don’t you do it, stop” as the Pontiac begins to back up towards Officer Payton. The video also reveals yelling coming from inside the Pontiac.
The driver of the Pontiac slowly backs up, before hitting Officer Payton’s leg.
According to the court documents, Officer Payton says he will shoot and orders the driver to stop several times. At that point, the driver turns the front tires and accelerates forward.
The officer again threatens to shoot.
Revealed in the arrest affidavit, “At the times the first two shots were fired, Officer Payton was standing in the approximate area of the front axle on the passenger side and is not in path of the fleeing vehicle. The officer pursues the white Pontiac with lights and sirens activated.”
Klich, who was wanted on a warrant for methamphetamine, did strike Payton’s patrol car before fleeing, then drove for another two miles with Payton pursuing him.
But Payton ended up striking another vehicle during the pursuit, a 2013 Dodge Dart driven by a man named Mattie Davis, resulting in total losses for both cars.
Klich then crashed into a building about a half block away. No drugs or weapons were found in his car.
After the incident, Klich’s sister, Amanda Klich, told local media that her brother was grateful to the officer for giving him a new perspective on life.
However, she still did not believe Payton should have shot her brother.
Amanda said that as he got out, Klich saw the officer turn around. She said the tires on the police cruiser were squealing, and “out of nowhere,” Payton drove up to Klich and Journey.
Amanda said Payton allegedly ran at Klich and Journey, yelling for Klich to put his hands up and not move.She said the officer yelled, “Don’t move or I’ll shoot you. Don’t move or I’ll shoot you.”At the time Klich and Journey each had arrest warrants for failing to appear in court for sentencing hearings. Amanda said her brother asked the officer what he did wrong.She said Payton stood at the front of the car on the passenger’s side and fired twice into the windshield. She said Klich started to pull his car out of the drive, and Payton fired a third shot into the back window. Amanda said her brother’s car bumped into Payton’s cruiser on the way out of the drive.“He clipped it, barely,” she said.Amanda denies Klich was armed and said neither Klich nor Journey were under the influence of drugs of alcohol.
“My brother, he’s never even talked about guns. He don’t even go hunting. I’ve never even so much as heard him say he wanted a gun,” she said.
Payton was charged with second degree assault on Wednesday and turned himself in that same day. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Payton joined the department in 2008 and became a field training officer in 2015, meaning he was responsible for training new officers.
The dash cam video of the shooting has not been released but we are working on obtaining it.