Lincoln, Nebraska (Lincoln Journal Star) — A former Lincoln Police Officer has been ticketed for allegedly assaulting a 51-year-old man while working off-duty at a Lincoln hospital Oct. 31.
Benjamin D. Rieker resigned Jan. 26 for policy violations, acting Police Chief Brian Jackson said.
Rieker, 32, had gone through the Lincoln Police Department’s Recruit Academy and been an officer for about a year and a half.
Jackson said the investigation stemmed from a disturbance and possible excessive use of control. Then-Chief Jeff Bliemeister learned of the allegation Nov. 12 and ordered an investigation by the department’s internal affairs unit.
“The investigation revealed department policy violations as well as a potential criminal offense,” Jackson said at a news conference Wednesday.
On Nov. 19, Bliemeister asked the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a criminal investigation as an independent outside agency.
Rieker was put on a 30-day leave of absence. He resigned Jan. 26.
Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner said they ultimately found probable cause to cite Rieker for third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.
While Rieker was working off-duty as a police officer at Bryan West Campus, he made contact with a 51-year-old Lincoln man in the emergency department after the man created a disturbance there, Wagner said.
He said Rieker left the man in the care of medical staff but returned a short time later to talk to the man about an alleged threat he had made after he was discharged and was walking out of the ER.
“During that contact, Rieker pushed the 51-year-old man backwards toward another officer and two security guards,” Wagner said. “The 51-year-old man fell backwards, lost his balance and struck his head on the ground.”
He said after reviewing video and interviewing witnesses, investigators determined Rieker had shoved the man “without provocation.”
Wagner said the man didn’t file a complaint with LPD but did cooperate with the sheriff’s investigation into what happened.
Jackson, the acting police chief, said: “The Lincoln Police Department works rigorously to build trust with the people of Lincoln.”
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Jackson said when officials became aware that an LPD employee may have committed a policy or law violation, they thoroughly investigated the incident and referred the incident to an outside law enforcement agency.
“The actions of this individual are in contrast to the cornerstones of our department’s culture, namely dedicated public service, community partnerships and fair and impartial policing,” he said. “We do not tolerate such conduct; and this incident does not define the approximately 500 employees who honorably serve the Lincoln community every day.”
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