Family says relative from KCK living in Omaha didn’t deserve to die

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KANSAS CITY, Kan.  -- Reality TV turns deadly while shooting a 'Cops' show in Omaha, Nebraska. Officers respond to an armed robbery call and ended up shooting a crew member and the suspect.

It's a story that's gained national attention and we now know that suspected armed robber is from KCK.

Family told Fox 4's Megan Brilley that Cortez Washington had his share of problems, but that no mistake he's made should've cost him his life.

"He said, 'if you need anything, call me. And I love you,'" Eboni Washington said.

That's the last conversation Eboni had with her brother, Cortez.

The two kept in contact after he moved from his hometown of KCK to Omaha, but instead of a phone call from him, she woke up to dozens of missed calls from family members across the country.

They told her Cortez was dead.

Police say he robbed a Wendy's in Omaha. Police showed up with the "Cops" television crew. Investigators say when police got on scene, Washington fired two shots at them. Police responded with a barrage of gunfire, firing more than 20 rounds.

Washington was killed along with a "Cops" audio technician.

"Based on our viewing of the footage, the officers had no choice other than to respond in which the manner they did," Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said.

But police say it was in no way an easy decision, as the "Cops" crew that was caught in the crossfire had become like family.

"Production crews have developed a close relationship with the officers that they ride with each and every day," Chief Schmaderer said.

Investigators later found Washington shot an air soft gun with plastic bullets.

"It's so many other things they could've done to prevent this from happening. He doesn't even have a gun that could puncture any of them standing out there," Eboni said.

Washington had served time for previous crimes in Wyandotte County, Kansas and had moved to Omaha to start a new chapter.

"He was down there doing wonderful, I was proud of him. He was doing good. Had a family," Eboni said.

Washington knows her brother was not innocent, but says the punishment he received was inhumane.

"He did not deserve to die. For whatever he did. For whatever the cause was he did not deserve to die," she said.

Police say the "Cops" TV show cameras were rolling during the entire incident, that video will be used in the investigation.

The audio technician that was killed had been with the show for five years. It's believed that this is the first time an employee of the show has been killed in its 25 years on air.

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