LINCOLN, Neb. – An Omaha mother represented by the ACLU of Nebraska has successfully settled a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging an officer’s excessive force.
Makayla Townsell’s lawsuit argued that Omaha Police Officer Ryan Keele violated her civil rights when he grabbed her, brandished a taser and arrested her during her family’s 2019 Thanksgiving dinner. The charges were later dismissed. Townsell lodged a citizen complaint about the officer’s actions. In response, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said Keele would be recommended for discipline. Townsell’s lawsuit sought a court determination that her rights were violated and damages.
In a settlement agreement finalized Monday, the City of Omaha agreed to provide damages to close the case, specifying the agreement did not serve as an admission Keele violated Townsell’s rights. Townsell said the agreement will help her family address the harm of the traumatic arrest.
“I wanted accountability and that’s what this agreement feels like to me,” Townsell said. “I hope awareness about what I and my family had to endure helps prevent something like this from happening to anyone else. At this point, I’m focused on moving forward. I’m glad we were able to reach an agreement and I’m grateful to the ACLU of Nebraska for taking up my case.”