OMAHA, Neb. - A white police officer was charged with manslaughter Wednesday in the shooting death of an unarmed black man after a high-speed chase.
Jerad Kruse, 31, a seven-year veteran of the Omaha police force, could face up to 70 years in prison.
About 60 Omaha police officers lined the hallway leading to the Douglas County courtroom Wednesday to support Kruse, patting him on the back as he walked by.
Kruse's attorney, Mike Fabian, said he was surprised by the charge. ''We'll address the facts in court,'' he said.
Kruse had been chasing George Bibins, 35, who was suspected of car theft, on July 19.
After Bibins crashed into a telephone pole, Kruse jumped out of his police car and shot Bibins while he was still inside the vehicle he was suspected of stealing, Police Chief Don Carey said. Bibins died of a single gunshot wound to the shoulder.
Following the shooting, Carey had said the department's internal investigation could not find a justification for the shooting.
''We feel the county attorney did what he had to do under the circumstances,'' Carey said.