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Former OPD officer gets probation in rough arrest

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Photo: Video by kmtv.com

Former OPD officer gets probation in rough arrest

By Jake Wasikowski. CREATED Aug 28, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) -- A former Omaha police officer fired for his role in a cover up appeared in a Douglas County courtroom Thursday. 

A judge sentenced James Kinsella for his actions during a rough arrest at 33rd & Seward Ave. last spring.

The former officer didn't say anything in court, but his attorney says he regrets what happened.

Kinsella received one year of probation for pleading no contest to two counts of obstructing government operations, which is a misdemeanor.  He was initially charged on four counts that included a felony.

In March 2013, someone videotaped Octavious Johnson being struck several times after a parking dispute.  Kinsella showed up as backup and went into the Johnson home, taking a memory card from Demitrius Johnson's phone.  The memory card was never found.

"What message is that sending to other police officers?  We've seen beatings and we've seen shootings, and we've seen sexual assaults and there's never jail time, so I don't know what standard or message that sends,” said Robert Wagner, a community activist.

Prosecutors dropped the felony tampering with evidence charge because the memory card wasn’t believed to actually have any cell phone video on it.

The judge said Kinsella had an honorable record prior and expressed his remorse.

Douglas Co. Attorney Don Kleine says all officers have to have clean records, and Kinsella should’ve received some jail time.  He faced up to two years behind bars.

"We respectfully disagree with the sentencing the court imposed here, it's disappointing,” Kleine explained. "This is an individual who disgraced or had a negative impact on all the good men and women of the police department.  He committed a crime while he was in uniform, violated the public trust.”

As part of the plea deal Kinsella will never be able to be a law enforcement officer in Nebraska again.

Former OPD Sergeant Aaron Vonbehren had his charges dropped this week.