Former OPD Officer Takes Plea Deal in Rough Arrest Case

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Former OPD Officer Takes Plea Deal in Rough Arrest Case

By Jake Wasikowski. CREATED Jul 16, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV)--Former Omaha Police Department officer James Kinsella pleads no contest in the rough arrest and cover-up from last year. 

Both sides felt the amended charges were appropriate, but that wasn't the only thing included in Kinsella’s plea.

KMTV Action 3 News first showed viewers the video of the rough arrest from 33rd & Seward from the spring of 2013. 

It started over a parking dispute.  An officer is seen striking a cuffed man, Octavius Johnson, who was cleared of wrong-doing.  But what happened inside the home was where prosecutors say the crime started.

He initially was charged with evidence tampering, a class 4 felony, and two other misdemeanors.

Kinsella pleaded no contest to two counts of obstructing government operations, a misdemeanor.  Judge Peter Bataillon accepted the plea and found him guilty on both counts.

During the incident, Kinsella went inside the home and took Demitrius Johnson's cell phone, pulled the memory card out and threw it out a window. 

When authorities executed a search warrant at Kinsella’s home he told them they wouldn’t find it.  The memory card hasn't been found.

“The basis for the reduction in charge was that all our evidence indicates that no recording was actually contained on that memory card that he eventually disposed of.  As a result he did not tamper with evidence if in fact there was no evidence,” said Jim Masteller, Deputy Douglas Co. Attorney.

Prosecutors say Demitrius Johnson was cuffed before he could record anything with his cell phone, so they dropped the felony.

But included in the plea deal, Kinsella will have his law enforcement certification revoked.  He's agreed not to contest that, meaning he will never be able to "protect and serve" in this state again.

"We thought the actions Mr. Kinsella took on that day cause it such that he should never be a law enforcement officer in the state of Nebraska again,” Masteller explained.

Former OPD Sergeant Aaron VonBehren is charged with accessory to a felony and obstructing for covering up Kinsella's actions.  He's still going through the courts.

Kinsella faces up to a year in prison on each obstructing government operations conviction.  He will be sentenced next month.

He was one of six officers fired over the incident. One officer, Brad Canterbury, got his job back.