Ex-officer pleads ‘not guilty’ in stun gun death of Murdo man

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A former Omaha police officer charged in the stun gun-related death of a mentally ill man from Murdo, S.D. has pleaded not guilty to two criminal counts.

Scotty Payne entered the pleas Wednesday in Douglas County Court at his arraignment on charges of assault and use of a weapon. Police investigators say Payne discharged a stun gun 12 times last June while trying to take 29-year-old Zachary Bearheels into custody after a reported disturbance at a local convenience store.

Payne and another officer, Ryan McClarty, were both fired and charged after police video showed Payne stunning Bearheels and McClarty repeatedly punching Bearheels after he was already on the ground. Bearheels died shortly after the confrontation.

Payne's trial has been set for Nov. 26.