A policeman who shot a driver on Halloween saved his life, says Omaha police chief (2023)

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Alia Conley

Halloween kicked off with cheers from costumed children collecting candy at a popular neighborhood party on Minnelosa Avenue in Omaha.

A policeman who shot a driver on Halloween saved his life, says Omaha police chief (1)

It ends with police shots and sirens.

As hundreds of people walked the streets of northern Omaha on Tuesday, a car drove around a barricade and a driver hit the gas, residents and community members recalled a night that could have been worse.

Officer Bryson Branford shot and killed the 31-year-old driver, Dontavius ​​Leverlin, near Newport Avenue shortly after 7 p.m. Leverlin was going to Minneluw, just a few blocks away on Sa Avenue. Branford was shot seven times and Leverling three times - once in the jaw and shoulder, police said. He is expected to survive.

James Moore Sr., whose family hosted a large family party on the boulevard, said he was grateful for the police action and that no one in the trouble appeared to be injured.

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"They could be my children and grandchildren, they could die," he said. - Many people could have been hit.

A policeman who shot a driver on Halloween saved his life, says Omaha police chief (2)

Branford, who has been with the department for four years, saved lives and followed Omaha police and procedures, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said Tuesday afternoon.

A policeman who shot a driver on Halloween saved his life, says Omaha police chief (3)

Schmaderer said his officers are trained to respond to situations where vehicles threaten large crowds, such as last year in Wisconsin where a man drove an SUV during a Christmas parade that left six dead and dozens injured . Last week, a jury found Darrell Brooks guilty in the case.

"Of course, this caused official concern, which was justified," Schmaderer said of Levering's actions on Monday night. - If there were no policemen, it is not difficult to conclude that someone would have been run over by this vehicle.

Witnesses said Levering revved the engine and hit the gas, narrowly avoiding pedestrians in the street. It stopped and stopped, first heading south on the north lane of Minnelos Boulevard and then circling the vertical section of the boulevard. The trunk of the car refused to stay closed, so when he applied the brakes, the trunk flew off.

Levering's lights went out as he drove.

Some chased the car and begged the driver to stop. Others shouted at him, said he couldn't drive there, and that he nearly ran over their children. Many people called 911 to report what had happened.

One young mother said a police officer told her and others to lie down on the ground and cover the baby as the car turned into the street.

Minne Lusa Trick or Treat is an annual community gathering involving the Omaha Police and Fire Department to connect with the community. A large barricade with white and bright orange stripes blocked access from Sharon Drive to Newport Avenue and Minne Lusa Boulevard.

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Blandford was assigned to the event and parked his police car in the middle of Minna Lusa near Newport Avenue, where he distributed candy to children from the cruiser's trunk, Schmaderer said.

Branford heard another officer say over the radio that the car had gone around the barricade. Branford then saw a car approaching from the north. Until then, the vehicle was parked in the south lane of Minnelos Blvd., passing Titus Blvd.

Branford pushed through the crowd to get the children out of the way, then stepped into the car's path and waved at the driver, Schmaderer said.

Branford told passers-by to move over and yelled "stop" at the driver at least five times, a supervisor said.

A policeman who shot a driver on Halloween saved his life, says Omaha police chief (4)

Lever continued driving towards Branford and the men behind him. Branford then shot Leverling. Photos released by Schmaderer from the Blandford body cam show a car heading head-on into Blandford. Branford's shadow reflected on the street, showing him aiming his pistol. At the top of the frame you can see his hands holding a pistol with both hands.

"The officer positioned himself in such a way as to protect the people behind him," Schmaderer said.

Branford began shooting as Leverling approached, police officials said. Branford continued to fire on the driver's side as the car passed. Body camera footage of Blandford showed that the driver's side window in the car was smashed.

The car was quickly stopped on the curb in front of a house near Minnelosa Avenue near Newport Avenue. Blandford and the paramedics who were on site treated Levering.

Omaha Fire Department personnel took Levering, who was in critical condition, to Nebraska Medical Center. On Tuesday afternoon, his condition was stable.

Lieutenant Neal Bonacci, a police spokesman, said Levering would go to prison after he was released from hospital on charges of attempted first-degree assault on a police officer and criminal use of a weapon - his car. Contrary to reports from some witnesses, Levering did not shoot trick shots, and no guns were found in the car, Bonacci said.

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Branford has been placed on paid administrative leave and will be available for interviews this week. But Schmaderer said he believed Blandford did the right thing, based on Blandford's body camera footage and eyewitness testimony.

The officers shooting were from the Omaha Police Department.second of two nightsSo far this year, the department has seen three such shootings, equating to last year's total and less than half of the highest annual number in the past decade - seven in 2016, Schmaderer noted.

One resident, who did not want her full name to be used, was cheating with her two children, ages 6 and 12. They've been going to Bulevar for five years.

“When kids go trick-or-treating, what effect does it have on them? How will they remember it?” said the woman. "I just want to know what the (driver's) intention was. You ruined a great Halloween night for the kids."

The woman said people ran away when they heard the shots and everyone went home. Parties usually last until 20:00 or 20:30.

Members of the non-profit Omaha Black Men United distributed candy to children on Tuesday to make amends for what happened.

Organizers encouraged children to put on their costumes and come to 4200 N. 30th St., where they were handing out candy, said Colleen Cannon, the group's program manager.

"It's a shame that kids don't even know trick-or-treating," said Cannon.

Levering has a long criminal history. In 2012 and 2013, he served prison sentences for accepting stolen property for theft. He was also convicted of attempted burglary in 2016.

Police said the investigation into what happened is ongoing. Lever was not available for questioning due to his medical condition, police said. Police officers do not yet know Levering's intentions - the address he gave is on a street near Minne Lusa Boulevard.

The Nebraska Patrol and the Sarpee County Sheriff's Office are assisting in the investigation.

alia.conley@owh.com, 402-444-1068,twitter.com/aliaconleyOWH


(Video) UPDATE: Omaha Police Department confirms officer-involved shooting; one man is dead


  • public safety
  • James Moore stars
  • Halloween
  • motorbike
  • Highway
  • Police
  • driver
  • Colleen Cannon
  • Costumes
  • trunk
  • officially
  • Omaha
  • siren
  • full
  • investigation
  • Transport
  • Bryson Branford
  • gunshots
  • weapon
  • Todd Schmadler
  • car
  • Officially
  • criminal law
  • Dontavius ​​lever
  • criminality

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Alia Conley

Alia Conley covers breaking news, crime and the courts. Follow her on Twitter @aliaconleyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1068.

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