Published Monday | March 17, 2008
Omaha police say teen killed in officer-involved shooting
Previous fatal shootings involving officers

• Previous fatal shootings involving officers
The fatal shooting of a 17-year-old Omahan by an Omaha police officer appears to have followed procedure, the city's interim police chief said Monday.

Jovan Reed, who police say was a gang member, was shot by Officer Frank Platt about 10:15 p.m. Sunday during a traffic stop, interim Police Chief Eric Buske said Monday. Platt, a five-year veteran, shot Reed after Reed got out of a car and pointed a gun at another police officer, Buske said.

Officer Frank Platt
Platt and two other gang unit officers in an unmarked police car pulled over a white Chevrolet Malibu with Missouri license plates before 10:15 p.m. Sunday. The car had failed to stop at a stop sign, Buske said.

Three males were inside the Malibu, which pulled into the driveway of a house at 4720 N. 31st Ave.

"All three parties in the car were documented gang members," Buske said.

According to Buske, this is what occurred next: One officer stood at the driver's side of the Malibu, another stood at the car's passenger side and Platt stood at the rear. All were wearing vests marked "Omaha Police."

Platt saw that the person in the back seat of the car, later identified as Reed, had a gun. Platt then yelled "gun" several times.

Reed then got out of the car, drew his weapon and pointed it at the officer standing at the car's passenger side. Platt then fired his gun, striking Reed. Reed was taken by rescue squad to the Nebraska Medical Center, where he died.

A handgun and a bag of what tests showed was crack cocaine were found on the ground next to Reed, Buske said.

Buske expressed his condolences to Reed's family.

Buske declined to identify the driver and front-seat passenger traveling with Reed because they were not arrested for any crimes. The two in the front seat were still inside the car when Platt shot Reed, Buske said.

The Malibu was a rental car, he said.

Buske said the other officers who made the stop were Brett Becker and Ryan Sedlacek, both seven-year veterans.

All three officers have been placed on administrative leave as per department policy.

At Monday's press conference, Buske said: "This thing is still in the preliminary stages right now, but things seem as clear-cut as they can be. We do believe it followed our department's procedures and policies."

This is not the first time Platt has used deadly force on duty. On Sept. 11, 2003, Platt shot and killed Albert Rucker after Rucker shot Officer Jason Tye Pratt after a traffic stop near 33rd and Corby Streets. Pratt later died.

Buske said the department's homicide and internal affairs units were investigating the Sunday night shooting. A grand jury also will investigate the matter in accordance with a state law that requires such probes.

Last August, Reed and a 19-year-old man were shot during a fight near 34th and Grand Avenues, but neither suffered life-threatening injuries, police said at the time.

In July 2005, a judge put Reed, then 15, on juvenile court probation for a third-degree misdemeanor assault incident. He was required to perform 15 hours of community service, complete an appropriate decisions class and undergo chemical dependency evaluations. According to court records, he successfully completed terms of his probation on Jan. 16, 2007.

That same month, Reed was charged with felony theft in connection with a stolen sport utility vehicle. According to juvenile court records, the felony against Reed was dropped because the woman who owned the vehicle refused to testify against Reed. Last summer, Reed paid a fine and court costs for a marijuana possession infraction.

Omaha police arrested Reed in December on suspicion of felony theft/receiving stolen goods, but that case was not prosecuted.

Omaha Public Schools officials said that Reed withdrew from Northwest High School in September 2006. He earlier had attended Monroe Middle School and Franklin Elementary School.

Omaha Police Union President Aaron Hanson said the three officers involved in the Sunday night incident "are known as very professional, hard-working gang investigators. It's unfortunate when these things happen, but obviously, it's a dangerous job interacting with gang suppression. As always, the gang members dictate the scenario for the officers."

Based on his knowledge of the shooting, Hanson said, Platt acted appropriately by using lethal force.

"Obviously, the investigation will be thorough, but based on the preliminary evidence, it seems to point out that this was a justified use of force," Hanson said. "Obviously, the final say will be with the grand jury."

Hanson said the key factors are that Reed did not have permission to exit the car, he had a handgun in his possession and he apparently pointed it at an officer.

"Gangs, drugs, guns and traffic stops . . . especially when a gang member refuses to stay inside a vehicle, that's a very dangerous situation for the police officers (and) members of the public," Hanson said.

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