SoCal Production Company Mourns Santa Monica Man Killed Filming “Cops”

Bryce Dion was working as a sound operator while filming the show in Omaha, Nebraska.

A Southern California production company mourned the loss of one of its crew members on Wednesday after he was killed in a police shootout while filming the reality TV show "Cops."

Bryce Dion, 38, lived in Santa Monica, where he worked for Langley Productions, officials said.

Key executives of the company, President John Langley and Executive Producer Morgan Langley, attended a police news conference in Omaha on Wednesday.

"Bryce has been with us for seven years," said Morgan Langley, who hired Dion. "This is a hard time for us. He's a very talented guy and he did something that he loved and is passionate about."

"We've been very fortunate over the years that we've never had an incident like this," he said.

Dion was working as a sound operator while filming the show in Omaha, Nebraska.

During the filming, police officers opened fire while disrupting a robbery at a Wendy's restaurant in an attempt to shoot a robbery suspect, who was armed with a pellet gun that they thought was a real handgun, authorities said Wednesday.

The suspect fired from the pellet gun before officers returned fire, Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said at a news conference. He said witnesses and officers thought the robbery suspect's Airsoft handgun looked and sounded real, but discovered later that it fires only plastic pellets.

The suspect was struck by the officers' gunfire, but fled outside of the restaurant before collapsing.

Officers continued firing on the suspect as he exited the restaurant, and that was when Dion -- who got separated from his cameraman -- was also struck, Schmaderer said.

Dion was wearing a bulletproof vest, but a single bullet that hit his arm "slipped into a gap in the vest" and entered his chest, Schmaderer said.

"My concern with my officers is that they are taking this very hard," Schmaderer said. "I am telling Bryce was their friend. It is as if we lost our own. That is the grieving process we are going through right now. He was an incredible man."

Schmaderer said video captured by another crew member of the "Cops" TV show shows the chaotic situation in the restaurant.

Police released still shots from the video showing a hooded and masked person pointing what looks like a gun at police. Schmaderer said police would not release the full video, but that it will be part of the grand jury investigation into the shooting.

The suspect was identified as 32-year-old Cortez Washington, who was on parole. Schmaderer said Washington had a lengthy criminal record, including an accessory to robbery conviction from Missouri. He started parole in August 2011 and transferred to Nebraska in September 2013. His parole was due to expire in June 2017.

Schmaderer said the incident began when one of the officers, on his way to another reported robbery, called about the robbery at the Wendy's and requested backup. The "Cops" crew members were with two officers who responded to that request.

"Cops" is a reality TV show that depicts law enforcement officers in action. According to its website, the show has been filmed in at least 140 U.S. cities and three foreign countries.

John Langley said the crew had been filming all summer in Omaha and had only one week left in the city when the deadly shooting happened.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us