‘Cops’: A Sound Tech’s Tragic Death Was Caught on Film During a Horrific Shootout

Cops is a TV show that was on the air for many years and managed to incite a lot of controversy. The series became very popular, providing a live feed into viewers’ homes as police officers and deputies went about their duties. Often times, violent confrontations would ensue. Still, Cops was slammed over the years for the way that some of the confrontations went down, and in 2014, the show made headlines when a member of the camera crew was killed during a shootout in Omaha, Nebraska. 

American police car with lights in front with other American police cars in the distance, in a parking lot
American Police Car Parade In Warsaw | Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto/Getty Images

When did ‘Cops’ debut on television?

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Cops premiered on television in 1989, on the Fox Network. The show featured camera crews that were assigned to various police departments around the world, following them as they went about their duties. Many times, the incidents that occurred on camera were routine, with police officers stopping people for speeding or other minor infractions. Still, the issues would sometimes get violent, and police officers and suspects would get into tussles – all while the cameras captured every moment.

Cops ultimately became one of the longest-running television shows in the United States, and one of the longest-running and most popular shows on the Fox network. In 2007, the series began airing in high definition, ushering in a new era of reality for the program, and bringing viewers even closer to the action. In the summer of 2020, Cops began making headlines again, in the wake of the protests following the death of George Floyd. 

Why did ‘Cops’ get canceled?

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Not only did Cops (and other similar television shows) feature a sharp decline in viewership around the time of George Floyd’s death, but critics took to social media to slam the show and the way that it highlighted tense confrontations between police officers and suspects. Many claimed that the show was police propaganda and that Cops featured direct instances of police brutality captured on camera. Finally, in June 2020, Cops was canceled after nearly 32 years on the air. 

While some showrunners took to social media to state that the show likely could come back in the future, it would be in a different form. For now, Cops remains off the air, and for some, that is for the best — especially considering that on at least one occasion, the series inadvertently caused the death of one cameraman who was actively filming an episode. 

A sound tech tragically died during the filming of an episode of ‘Cops’

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In August 2014, tragedy struck when a sound man who was filming an episode of Cops was killed in a shootout between police officers and an armed robber. According to a report by NBC, the sound supervisor, Bryce Dion, was stuck in a vestibule in a Nebraska Wendy’s restaurant when police opened fire, and a stray bullet struck Dion under the armpit, missing the bulletproof vest that he was wearing at the time. To make matters worse, the shocking incident was captured on camera, with viewers easily able to see the moment that Dion was struck. The sound supervisor was rushed to the hospital but died shortly after the incident, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The tragic incident didn’t fade away quietly. Dion’s family brought a wrongful death suit against showrunners, which lasted for years, reports AP News. In 2019, a Nebraska judge dismissed the case, ruling that officers acted “reasonably” because they were called to respond to the armed robber immediately. “However, this calculation does not make Bryce Dion’s death any less tragic,” the judge wrote in his ruling. “In addition to being a loving son and brother, Bryce Dion was undoubtedly courageous and a credit to his profession.”

While this was the only time a crew member was killed in the line of duty during all the years that Cops was on the air, the incident still stands out as being tragic and truly unfortunate.