Grand Jury to Investigate 7 Deaths in Custody

By: WOWT Email
By: WOWT Email

A Douglas County Grand Jury will be convened to investigate the circumstances of deaths of seven people who were either in custody or were in the process of being placed in custody.

Douglas County District Court Presiding Judge Marion A. Polk determined that it would be more efficient and cost effective to consolidate the seven investigations for one grand jury. The grand jury is scheduled to convene September 17.

Three of the seven cases received a lot of news coverage. They include the March 8 death of Jason Welch. Police opened fire on him when he began ramming cruisers in the area of 50th and Center. Officers said Welch moved his hands toward the floorboard, possibly to arm himself. He was being investigated as part of a drug sting.

On January 1, Tyree Bell was shot and killed by police during a standoff. Bell came out of a house with a shotgun in one hand and his 3-year-old son in the other. Four officers opened fire after he put the boy down.

Another incident that received news coverage happened June 15. Police say they shot Jorge Abraham Zarazua-Rubio after he went on a shooting rampage that left two people killed and two others wounded. Investigators say Zarazua-Rubio was high on meth at a level that was 27 times the amount considered to be an overdose.

Also being investigated by the grand jury will be the December 29, 2012 death of Jonathan Lewis, the March 1 death of Justin B. Hogan, the February 15 death of Robert C. Willis, and the June 30 death of David Richardson.

Nebraska state law requires a grand jury investigation anytime someone dies either in custody or while in the process of being placed in custody.

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