Omaha, NE (August 28, 2014)—Bryce Dion, a soundman for the long-running reality TV show, COPS, was killed by police gunfire in Omaha, NE on Tuesday night, during a robbery at a Wendy’s restaurant.
Dion, 38, was onsite recording the incident with a COPS TV crew when he was hit by one of an estimated 30 or more bullets shot during the robbery; the suspect, 32-year-old Cortez Washington, was also killed. The only shots fired during the robbery came from officers, said police. According to the Omaha World-Herald, three officers opened fire on Washington after the suspect fired an Airsoft pellet gun.
Originally hailing from Lawrence, MA, Dion lived in Santa Monica, CA, and had a lengthy career working in reality television. In addition to handling sound on shows such as Container Wars, Trading Spaces and The Glee Project among many others, he worked as a production sound mixer on more than 80 episodes of COPS between 2009 and 2013. Dion also had numerous credits as an assistant cameraman on shows such as Last Comic Standing and Top Chef.
TV crews for the reality show have been embedded with Omaha police all summer; crew members are required to wear bulletproof vests, but Dion was struck in an unprotected area near his left arm, according to police. The TV crew’s footage of the incident has been taken as evidence as part of the investigation; additional footage from the Wendy’s security cameras has also leaked on to the internet.
According to Langley Productions, which produces COPS, this marks the first time a crew member has been seriously injured, shot or killed during the taping of the show since it first began airing in 1989. In a statement, the company said, “We are deeply saddened and shocked by this tragedy and our main concern is helping his family in any way we can. Bryce Dion was a long term member of the 'Cops' team and a very talented and dedicated person. We mourn his passing. An investigation is ongoing and we are cooperating with local authorities."