KEARNEY — After a 3½-month investigation by the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, Kearney Police Department Officer Derek Payton has been charged with felony assault in the June shooting of a Kearney man.
Payton, 35, was charged Wednesday afternoon in Buffalo County Court with felony second-degree assault of Jose Klich, 35, of Kearney on June 5 as Payton contacted Klich in southeast Kearney. Payton turned himself in to authorities at the Buffalo County Jail at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Judge John Rademacher set his bond at 10 percent of $10,000, or $1,000. Payton posted the bond and was released Wednesday evening.
Payton hadn’t responded to a request for comment late this morning. KPD issued a statement saying neither the department nor staff will comment on the matter and that Payton remains on administrative leave pending the completion of the criminal trial.
Attempts to reach members of the Klich family also were unsuccessful.
Court records outline the case against Payton:
On June 5, Payton was on patrol in southeast Kearney when he saw a white Pontiac turning east at the intersection of Sixth Street and Central Avenue. Using his in-cruiser computer, he learned the license plates on the car weren’t registered to the Pontiac.
Payton’s cruiser video camera recorded the car turning east onto Sixth Street, and Payton followed the car into the Johnson Lawn Landscape lot at 306 E. Sixth St.
The recording, records say, show the car pulling up to the north side of a building.
Payton pulled up and parked west and north of the rear of the Pontiac. Klich immediately got out and Payton ordered him to stay in the car, the records say.
Klich put both hands up as the officer repeated his commands to get into the car. Klich got back into the driver’s seat, and records say, the video recording shows Payton walk to the rear of the car, stop several feet behind it, and position himself on the rear passenger side.
Payton had his duty weapon drawn and pointed toward the occupants of the car. He yelled, “Don’t you do it. Stop,” as the car began to back up toward him.
Records say yelling can be heard coming from inside the Pontiac. Klich slowly backed up toward Payton, “contacting the officer’s leg.” Payton warned Klich he would shoot, and several times ordered him to stop and to put the car into park, the records say.
Klich turned the front tires to the right and accelerated forward as Payton moved along the passenger side of the car, and yelled “stop.” Records say the video shows the car backed up a short distance and then drove out of view of the camera to the west.
Payton can be seen on the passenger side of the car, records say, and is threatening to shoot.
Klich accelerated the westbound car, and the officer shot his weapon, and yelled “shots fired.” At the time the first two shots were fired, Payton was standing at the front axle on the passenger side of the car, and records say, he was not in the path of the fleeing vehicle.
Payton pursued the car with his lights and sirens on and radioed other officers for backup.
Records say security cameras at Johnson Lawn and Landscape record from different angles around the property, although they don’t record audio. One camera was in position to show Payton and the car when Payton fired his weapon.
That camera shows Klich turn the car to the west, be impeded by a wood fence and back up. Payton positioned himself on the driver’s side of the car, allowing him to see through the car’s windshield.
After Klich backs the car up, Klich turns further to the right. Records say there was room between the fence and Payton’s cruiser to drive through.
Klich drove forward and Payton fired through the windshield as the car moved west. The front passenger side quarter panel of Klich’s car makes minor contact with the rear quarter panel of Payton’s cruiser and leaves the area.
After Payton returned to his cruiser, he pursued Klich for about two miles to the intersection of 17th Street and Fifth Avenue where the officer’s cruiser collided with a 2013 Dodge Dart driven by Mattie Davis, 25, of Kearney. Both vehicles were totaled.
Klich continued north on Fifth Avenue and collided with the Jack Lederman Co. building at the corner of 19th Street and Fifth Avenue. He fled on foot, and was apprehended about one-half block east of the crash site. He had a single gunshot wound to the torso.
His front seat passenger, Amanda Journey, 32, of Kearney was still with the vehicle.
No weapons were found in the car or on Klich, who was taken to CHI Health Good Samaritan where he underwent surgery for a single gunshot wound to the upper right abdomen. The bullet was removed during surgery.
Klich suffered injuries to his stomach, colon and small intestine.
Payton, Journey and Davis all were transported to CHI Health Good Samaritan where they were treated for their injuries and released. Klich was hospitalized for 18 days, then arrested on a Buffalo County warrant for failing to appear in court for sentencing on a conviction for felony possession of methamphetamine.
Officers seized Klich’s car and found two bullet holes in the passenger side of the windshield, and the back window was shattered. One bullet was recovered inside of the car, and a third bullet was never located.
At the time of the incident, Journey was wanted on a Buffalo County warrant for failing to appear at the jail to serve a sentence for assault by mutual consent, a misdemeanor.
She served seven days and was released, while Klich was placed on four years probation for his conviction.
The shooting investigation was conducted by the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office with assistance from the Nebraska State Patrol.
If convicted, and if he isn’t placed on probation, Payton faces up to five years in prison. He is scheduled to appear in court in September.
Originally posted at 8:37 a.m.
KEARNEY — Kearney Police Department Officer Derek Payton has been charged with felony second-degree assault in the June 5 shooting of Jose Klich following a confrontation in southeast Kearney.
Payton, 35, was charged Wednesday afternoon in Buffalo County Court. He was arrested and later posted 10 percent of a $10,000 bond, or $1,000, and is free.
Court records say Payton was “not in the path” of Klich’s white 1996 Pontiac four-door car when Payton fired three times at the vehicle. He hit Klich once in the stomach as he fled the scene. Payton had contacted Klich, 35, of Kearney in the 300 block of East Sixth Street after noticing license plates on the car didn’t match the information registered in a police data bank.
Payton contacted Klich outside of the car and ordered him at gunpoint to get back into the vehicle. Klich backed up toward Payton “contacting the officer’s leg.” Payton warned Klich he would shoot, ordered Klich to stop several times, then fired three times into the car as Klich flees the scene, the court records say.
As Klich drove away, his car hit the corner of Payton’s cruiser.
Payton returned to his cruiser where he radioed other officers for backup, then followed Klich for about two miles to 17th Street and Fifth Avenue where the officer collided with a 2013 Dodge Dart driven by Mattie Davis, 25, of Kearney, according to the court records. Both vehicles were total losses.
Klich’s Pontiac continued north on Fifth Avenue and collided with the Jack Lederman Co. building at the corner of 19th Street and Fifth Avenue. Klich fled the car on foot and was caught about one-half block east of the crash site, the records say. He had a single gunshot wound to the abdomen.
Passenger Amanda Journey was still at Klich’s vehicle.
Payton, Klich, Journey and Davis all were transported to CHI Health Good Samaritan where Klich underwent surgery for a the gunshot wound, which injured his stomach, colon and small intestine.
The bullet was removed during surgery. After being released from the hospital Klich was arrested on a Buffalo County warrant for failing to appear in court for a sentencing on a conviction for felony possession of methamphetamine. Klich later was placed on four years probation and on July 20 was released from jail.
Payton, Journey and Davis all were treated and released from the hospital. After being released, Journey also was arrested on a Buffalo County warrant for failing to appear for a sentencing on a conviction
According to a press release from the city of Kearney, Payton remains on administrative leave pending the completion of the criminal trial.
KPD staff will not comment on Payton’s arrest.
If convicted, and if he isn’t placed on probation, Payton faces up to 20 years in prison.