Lincoln, Neb. (CBS ST. LOUIS) – Nebraska State Sen. Ernie Chambers made a series of controversial comments regarding police officers, saying that if he carried a gun he’d shoot an officer first and ask questions later.
An audio recording from KFOR 1240 uncovered Chambers, who represents North Omaha’s 11th District and is the state’s only African-American senator, comparing law enforcement to Islamic State militants and saying he’d shoot a cop if he owned a weapon.
Chambers said he “wouldn’t go to Syria…wouldn’t go to Iraq…wouldn’t go to Afghanistan…” because local police terrorize residents daily.
“My ISIS is the police. Nobody from ISIS ever terrorized us as a people as the police do us daily. And they get away with it,” said Chambers, WOWT-TV reports. “You know what the [Douglas] County Attorney said, Don Kleine, if the officer makes a mistake- if he’s wrong – but he had reason to think he was right, then he’s clear. I cannot get away with that and shoot you and say ‘I thought he was going to do something.’
“The police are licensed to kill us – children, old people,” he said.
Chambers said that if he owned a gun, he’d use it as police officers use weapons against residents of Omaha.
“If I was going to carry a weapon, it wouldn’t be against you or the people who come here that I might have a dispute with. Mine would be with the police,” said Chambers. “And if I carried a gun I’d want to shoot him first and then ask questions later like they say a cop ought to do.”
Chambers represents North Omaha, which is a high-crime area with simmering racial tensions and encounters with police such as the March 2013 incident in which police threw a man to the ground and beat him as 32 officers stormed a home across the street in response to a parking complaint, Watchdog.org reports. Four officers were fired following allegations of excessive force, a police cover-up and evidence tampering.
But fellow State Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha remarked that Chambers’ comments were “appalling.”
“I think Senator Chambers owes those who wear the uniform of law enforcement an apology,” McCoy said on the floor of the Nebraska legislature.
And Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer also issued a response to Chambers’ comments, calling them “reprehensible.”
“Senator Chambers’ attack on police officers shows total disregard for public safety. Why would any elected official state if he had a gun he would shoot a police officer? The Senator should be looking for ways to improve public safety, not comparing police officers to terrorists. He owes an apology not only to Omaha Police Officers but to every citizen of Omaha.”