Woman sues Omaha police officer accused of excessive force

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A civil rights organization has filed a lawsuit on behalf of an Omaha woman who says a police officer wrongfully and violently arrested her on Thanksgiving Day nearly two years ago.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday against Omaha Officer Ryan Keele, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Makayla Townsell, 37, says in the lawsuit that Keele and a partner showed up at her home on Thanksgiving Day 2019 as she was hosting a large family gathering. The officers were there to investigate a report of neglect involving her teenage son.

After some time speaking with Townsell and her son and searching the teen’s room, Keele yelled that he was arresting Townsell, threw her to the ground and handcuffed her, the lawsuit said. Townsell was taken to jail and released on bail, but all charges against her were later dismissed. The Department of Health and Human Services later deemed the neglect allegation against her to be unfounded.


Townsell says a police report of the arrest made by Keele contained falsehoods about their interaction, include his claim that she tried to run from the house. A letter she received from the police chief after she filed a complaint said that the officers’ body cameras confirmed Townsell’s account of the interaction.

A working telephone number for Keele could not be found Friday, and no attorney was yet listed for him in online court documents.

The police department declined to comment to the World-Herald and would not say whether Keele remains employed there.