An Omaha police officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation to examine his use of force during the arrest of a young boy Tuesday, according to the Omaha police department. Social media posts and witnesses say the child was 12 years old.

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said he placed Officer Tyler Hansen, an officer who’s spent 14 years with the department, on leave Wednesday after learning about a video circulating social media showing the arrest the day before, according to police.

The 15-second video originally posted on Facebook shows an Omaha police officer pushing a boy against the right side of an OPD police car and slamming his body and face against the cruiser in the Gifford Park neighborhood, near 33rd and Burt streets. 

“Chief Schmaderer immediately asked for the involved officers to be identified and has authorized an internal investigation into the incident,” according to a Wednesday police press release.

According to a police report obtained by The Reader, at 2:29 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, two officers went to the Atlas Apartments at 2929 California St. to respond to a trespassing call. There, staff said they had “an ongoing issue” of kids trespassing and using the private apartment complex’s pool. Staff told the officers the kids had left the complex prior to police arrival. Officers then reviewed footage of the pool trespassing.

At 2:57 p.m Hansen and another officer responded to a disturbance at 718 N. 33rd St. According to the same police report, a caller said four male kids were outside his apartment, asking about a missing or stolen iPad which the caller knew nothing about and refusing to leave.

Once officers arrived at the intersection of N. 33rd and Burt Streets they saw six kids outside the caller’s house. One officer recognized several of the kids as individuals from the Atlas Apartments video footage, according to the report. The group then grew to eight to ten kids, according to police.

The officer warned the group about trespassing at the apartment complex, and confirmed at least some of them were involved in a call regarding the stolen iPad, according to the police report. The group began to disperse until one kid approached an officer “yelling profanity and acting aggressively,” according to police. The officer warned the juvenile “his behavior was disorderly and that he needed to leave, but he refused,” police said.

According to police, the boy lunged towards the officer “and was initially pushed away.” When he lunged again, he was taken into custody, police said. The kid, who’s age is not listed on the police report, “kicked, fought and struggled to get free” before the officer secured him in handcuffs “after a brief struggle,” the police report said. 

Officer Hansen “arrived and escorted (the young boy) to the police cruiser,” according to the police, as the boy continued to struggle and try to spit on Hansen. He was then placed in the police car “without additional incidents,” the police report reads.

John Szalewski, a bartender who witnessed the arrest, told The Reader he had just walked outside with a friend when they saw the officer handling the boy as the group of kids argued with officers. He and his friend took their phones out to record the incident.

At one point, the officer was “forcing him onto the hot concrete” as the boy yelled out, according to Szalewski, and he heard the boy shout “I’m only 12 years old, I’m only 12 years old.”

“It looked like he was in pain,” witness Szalewski said. “I don’t think that thrashing was relatively resisting arrest, I think it was more being a kid and not knowing what to do.” 

Following the arrest, Szalewski said he and an adult woman also at the intersection tried to speak with officers to ask why the arrest was forceful.

“When I asked for his name and badge number, he said that the kids already got it,” Szalewski said, “and then when I asked further he threatened me with arrest and told me to step away from his car and rolled up his window.”

Szalewski said he spoke with the group of boys, who told him they initially had come to 33rd and Burt Streets looking for a missing iPad. He said the officers escalated a situation with young kids that could have been deescalated peacefully.

“(The officer) was manhandling a 12 year old,” he said. “I’m a bartender, I deal with drunk adults every day and I don’t have to manhandle them.”

Hansen is a 14-year veteran of the department with no previous use of force violations, according to police. The 12-year-old child was released on juvenile street release, according to police reports.

Bridget Fogarty is a Report for America Corps member reporting with The Reader and its billingual (Spanish/English) sister publication El Perico.

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