Omaha police officers were running and gunning to make compelling TV when they sprayed bullets at an armed robbery suspect, killing him and a 'Cops' crewman ... so claims the dead suspect's family.
TMZ spoke with one of Cortez Washington's relatives ... who believes the officers used excessive force Tuesday night -- and were "hyped up" to put on a good show when they responded to the Wendy's.
As we reported ... 'Cops' sound supervisor Bryce Dion died after getting hit by friendly fire from Omaha PD during the shootout with Washington -- who was holding a Wendy's employee at gun point.
Washington's firearm turned out to be a pellet gun -- modeled after a real semi-automatic pistol -- and his family thinks officers should have recognized it wasn't a lethal weapon before they unloaded more than 20 rounds. One family member told us, "With everything going on in Ferguson, you think they would use other options."
The relative also said they don't buy Omaha PD's claim Cortez started the shootout by firing two rounds.
Omaha cops say they were not grandstanding for cameras ... maintaining they responded to the robbery with proper protocol ... and engaged Cortez because he pointed and fired his weapon at them.
'Cops' Crew Member
Killed By 'Friendly Fire' ...
Shot by Omaha Cop
8/27/2014 1:15 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Omaha police say the "Cops" crew member who was shot and killed during a police shootout with an armed robbery suspect was hit by gunfire from police ... NOT from the suspect's weapon.
Omaha PD just held a news conference to discuss the details surrounding the death of Bryce Dion -- a sound supervisor who was part of a 2-person "Cops" camera crew. They called it a tragic case of "friendly fire."
According to police ... Dion and his partner were riding with a patrol unit that responded to the armed robbery call at a Wendy's. Police say Dion was in the entryway of the restaurant when the suspect fired shots ... and police returned fire with multiple rounds.
Investigators say Dion was caught in the crossfire ... hit by a bullet or bullets from a police weapon. They say Dion was wearing an armored vest, but the bullet went through the arm hole of the vest.
Omaha PD was also adamant -- the officers were NOT showing off for the camera when they opened fire on the suspect -- who also died from gunshot wounds.
Police say the suspect was firing an Airsoft pellet gun ... something the responding officers didn't know at the time.
'Cops' creator John Langley was at the news conference and said other crew members -- who've been taping in Omaha for 2 months -- are getting counseling. Police released still images from the 'Cops' camera footage.
'Sons of Guns'
On Heels of Hayden Rape Case
8/27/2014 10:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Discovery is permanently pulling the plug on its hit show "Sons of Guns" ... as the show's star faces child rape charges.
A rep for Discovery tells TMZ ... “Given the serious and horrific nature of the charges against Will Hayden, we have decided to halt further production of Sons of Guns and cancel the series.”
TMZ broke the story ... Hayden was re-arrested Tuesday when cops decided to charge him with child rape. Hayden was first arrested 2 weeks ago for allegedly molesting his 12-year-old daughter.
Hayden is the owner of Red Jacket Firearms ... the gun store featured on Discovery's show, which ran for 5 seasons.
Hayden is still in custody after his arrest.
11:30 AM PT -- Will didn't just lose his TV show ...he lost his company too ... Red Jacket Firearms just announced they've severed all ties with Hayden.
No Wedding Ring
On 'America's Got Talent'
8/27/2014 10:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
It seems Nick Cannon is making his break-up with Mariah Carey official ... 'cause he appeared on "America's Got Talent" Tuesday night sans wedding ring.
Cannon was hosting a live episode of the show and his lack of wedding ring was extremely noticeable ... especially since he normally sports a pretty big sparkler.
We got Mariah out earlier this week ... and the 44-year old diva was also walking around without a wedding ring -- only she replaced the expensive hardware with her signature butterfly ring.
Dancing With the Stars
Athletes & YouTube Stars
Will Save Our Show
8/27/2014 9:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
The new "Dancing with the Stars" cast could have its hardest bodies yet -- a bunch of pro athletes and an Olympian -- along with something new ... a YouTube superstar, TMZ has learned.
We got a hold of the 'DWTS' producers wish list -- the celebs they're gunning to get for Season 19 -- and it includes 'Bachelorette' Andi Dorfman, ex-UFC fighter Randy Couture, "American Ninja Warrior" contestant Kacy Catanzaro, Olympic track star Lolo Jones and Antonio Sabato Jr.
Our 'DWTS' sources tell us they're also trying to land a female YouTube star ... who we're told has tens of millions of followers. It's a smart ploy for a veteran show with aging viewers to pull in fresh, younger viewers.
We're told some of the celebs are already negotiating their 'DWTS' contracts. The one thing still missing though ... a really big traditional TV or movie star. The full cast will be announced Sept. 4.
TV Cameraman Shot and Killed
While Taping Shootout
8/27/2014 7:29 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
A cameraman for the TV show "Cops" was shot while covering a shootout between Omaha police and an armed robbery suspect ... and sources close to the production tell TMZ the photog has died from his injuries.
Officers -- with the "Cops" crew in tow -- responded to a call at a fast food restaurant Tuesday night and found an armed robbery in progress. Police say shots were fired and 2 people were hit -- the cameraman and the suspect.
In police radio transmissions, you can hear cops call for backup during the shootout. One of the officers says, "We've got a 'Cops' cameraman hit ... white male ... he's not conscious ... he's slightly breathing."
Police say the robbery suspect was pronounced dead Tuesday night at the hospital.
Turned Down HUGE Vegas Offer
8/27/2014 1:00 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Robin Williams turned down a huge Las Vegas offer 2 years before he died ... and sources connected with Robin tell us it's further proof he did NOT have money troubles.
TMZ has obtained an AEG Live document to Robin ... offering him $600,000 to headline 2 shows at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
We're told Robin's people turned the offer down ... he was shooting "The Crazy Ones" at the time. Robin's people -- who have maintained all along money was not a factor in his suicide -- tell TMZ if he was really cash-strapped he would have done some moonlighting in Vegas to rake in some dough.
Under the proposal ... ticket prices ranged from $75 - $150.
'Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta'
Allegations Crack Cocaine
Triggered Violent Brawl
8/27/2014 12:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
A vicious "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta" brawl has triggered a lawsuit ... which now alleges one of the stars was smoking crack cocaine at the reunion show.
Althea Eaton has filed suit against Joseline Hernandez, who is caught on tape punching Althea in the face and dragging her to the ground ... then hitting and scratching her for good measure.
In the suit, Althea claims eyewitnesses allegedly observed Joseline smoking crack cocaine out of a pipe backstage during the show. Althea believes Joseline was high as a kite when she attacked.
It's interesting ... Althea is NOT suing the show or the network, which means one of 2 things:
1. Producers didn't orchestrate the fight
2. They did but she needs the job
'Sons of Guns' Will Hayden
Daughter: He Took My Virginity
Child Rape Charge Added (UPDATE)
8/26/2014 2:35 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
4:30 PM PT -- TMZ has obtained arrest docs in Hayden's case ... and Hayden's daughter is now backing up the allegations. She told investigators Hayden took her virginity in March, 2013 when she was 11-years-old. She said she was orally and vaginally raped almost daily, but did not report it because he threatened her physically.
According to the docs, the victim says Hayden told her, "Don't tell them nothing, because I'm all you got."
Will Hayden has been arrested again -- this time cops are adding a charge of child rape in the molestation case he's already facing ... TMZ has learned.
TMZ broke the story ... the "Sons of Guns" cast member was busted 2 weeks ago in Louisiana for allegedly molesting his 12-year-old daughter. Hayden was released after posting bail -- but we've learned he was picked up again today.
Law enforcement sources tell us the investigation led the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Department to tack on a charge of aggravated rape of a child. An arrest warrant was issued today ... and cops, aided by U.S. Marshals, nabbed Hayden in Livingston, LA.
Hayden told us after the initial arrest that his ex-girlfriend -- and mother of the child -- was making false allegations to get back at him for ending their relationship.
I'm a TV Writer Now
With Gig On HBO Show
8/26/2014 4:36 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Fomer NFL running back Rashard Mendenhall says he has NO REGRETS about quitting football in March at the age of 26 ... saying he's now a TV writer with a gig on an HBO show.
Mendenhall -- who won a Super Bowl with the Steelers in 2009 -- wrote a blog for the Huffington Post saying, "I wasn't supposed to walk away from the NFL, but I did. I wasn't supposed to be writing television, but I am. I'm supposed to be lost after football. I'm not."
Rashard says he moved to Santa Monica earlier this year and became a member of the Writers Guild of America, West to pursue his dreams of writing for a TV show.
And in just a few months, Mendenhall says he's already got a pretty sweet job -- "I'm on the writing team of a new show that will air on HBO next summer."
"A year ago, a writing career was just a tiny seed of thought as I prepared for my sixth NFL season. And as I write this now, it has already begun to sprout. Through this experience I've learned that you can will your dreams into existence."
BET Made Me Diss Blue Ivy
In Tasteless Joke
8/26/2014 1:30 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Karrueche Tran is blaming BET for the fact she ripped Beyonce and Jay Z's little girl with a harsh joke about her hair while hosting "106 & Park."
The joke took a shot at Blue Ivy's hairdo and no one ever combing it -- but it quickly blew up in Karreuche's face when incensed Bey and Jay fans unleashed a vicious social media attack on her.
A source close to Chris Brown's GF tells TMZ ... she read the joke cold off a teleprompter -- it was in a script that had been changed by producers at the last-minute -- and she never saw it beforehand.
We're told ... it was a live show and KT had no choice but to read what was on the prompter. Afterward, she and her manager went nuclear because they also thought the joke -- about a 2-year-old -- was mean-spirited and in poor taste.
Karrueche tells TMZ she actually admires Blue's 'do, saying ... "I love that Blue is able to wear her natural hair." She added she would never disrespect Beyonce and Blue Ivy.
BET President Stephen Hill also apologized, saying he reached out to Beyonce and Jay Z ... and has "taken punitive actions" with the producers responsible for putting Karrueche in that position.
Neighbors Are the Ones Who Knock
To Say Congrats on Emmy
8/26/2014 1:15 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Bryan Cranston is beloved by all his neighbors for playing a horrifying villain, and they let him know it by decorating the front of his house after his Emmy win.
After Bryan won for Best Actor ... the "Breaking Bad" star returned home to find balloons tied to his fencing and a handwritten note congratulating him.
But the thing is ... the note looks like it was written by neighborhood kids -- and we all know ... "Breaking Bad" is NOT fun family viewing.
Maybe they're just "Malcolm in the Middle" fans.
I Won't Watch 'Saved by the Bell' Biopic ...
It's Full of Lies
8/26/2014 12:30 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
Hey, hey, hey ... Mr. Belding says the new Lifetime biopic about "Saved by the Bell" is filled with BS -- so he's refusing to watch.
Dennis Haskins was clearly pissed about the upcoming flick on his way out of LAX Sunday night ... because he claims it's based on Dustin Diamond's 2009 book "Behind the Bell" -- which Screech admitted was embellished.
Diamond is an executive producer on the Lifetime movie ... and Dennis Belding says that's a huge red flag about the accuracy of the movie.
Lifetime released a few minutes last week, and it definitely seems pro-Screech.