A 21-year-old man was shot by an Omaha police officer during a traffic stop near U.S. Highway 75 and Lake Street Thursday afternoon, and a subsequent vehicle chase and crash tied up traffic across eastern Omaha for several hours.
Micah D. Taylor is under police guard at Nebraska Medical Center with what police described as a minor wound to the neck area.
Veteran Police Officer Dave Staskiewicz, 49, who has been with the force 19 years, suffered a minor, non-gun-related injury during a struggle with Taylor. He was treated and released from the hospital.
The incident began about 2:30 p.m. as officers with the gang unit conducted an investigation and Staskiewicz pulled over Taylor’s car, a four-door sedan, on Highway 75 near Lake Street.
Just the day before, authorities had issued a warrant for Taylor’s arrest, charging him with trying to strangle a woman in Bellevue and witness tampering. His police record indicates that he’s also facing another charge of strangulation, domestic assault and false imprisonment. Police have not said if the stop was related to the warrant.
According to Staskiewicz’s radioed account of the initial encounter, Taylor moved to grab something in the center console of his car and was turning back toward Staskiewicz when the officer fired his gun.
“Did he shoot at you?” Staskiewicz was asked over the police radio.
“No, I saw the money,” Staskiewicz responded. “He grabbed toward the center console. He started spinning toward me. I shot him.”
As Taylor headed south on Highway 75, other officers and the police helicopter followed him.
Taylor was seen throwing items out his car window as he drove south, according to another officer’s radio call. When Taylor crashed, officers descended on the scene and ambulances were called.
The highway was closed until about 8 p.m. so police could investigate the shooting scene, the crash scene and search for possible contraband along the highway. Officers said on the police scanner that they were looking for contraband, possibly a bag of marijuana, near where the officer made the traffic stop at Lake Street.
Staskiewicz is a well-known member of the force and has been recognized for his skill in training other officers with firearms use. He was instrumental in opening the Omaha Public Safety Training Center and was one of the first officers to respond to one of Omaha’s most painful episodes, the mass shooting at Von Maur.
Fernando Gamon, 28, who works at a warehouse near the crash site, saw the immediate aftermath.
“(Police) were looking through the car, popped the trunk,” Gamon said. “Then more cops came and they started searching through the grass.”
A man, presumably the vehicle’s driver, was on a stretcher. Gamon described the scene as “crazy.”
According to a Nebraska State Patrol dispatcher, the highway was closed for nearly eight miles, from Ames Avenue to L Street. The closure included the evening rush hour and blocked the most common route for people headed to Bellevue. As a result, all major routes in the vicinity were backed up, including 13th Street, L Street and the Veterans Memorial Bridge. Drivers were encouraged to go west toward Interstate 680 or east into Iowa and Interstate 29.