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Douglas County judge calls grand jury to investigate 15 in-custody deaths

(AP)
Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 4:25 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The presiding judge of the Douglas County District Court on Monday called for a grand jury to investigate 15 in-custody deaths that occurred in 2018 and 2020.

Judge Horacio J. Wheelock asked the grand jury to investigate the following deaths:

  • Michael Truscott, who died Sept. 18, 2018.
  • Terrance Newsome, who died Aug. 22, 2019, following a standoff with Omaha Police.
  • Robert Jensen, who died Oct. 12, 2019, from a gunshot wound while barricaded in a home near 48th and Boyd streets.
  • Jessica Wolfe, who died Oct. 12, 2019, after she was found unresponsive in her cell by Douglas County Correctional Officers.
  • Terry Hudson, who died Dec. 31, 2019, after OPD officers responded to a domestic disturbance call at Evans Tower.
  • Jesus Munoz, who died Jan. 25, 2020, after he experienced medical distress in his cell.
  • Carmichael Elya, who died Feb. 4, 2020, after he was found unresponsive in his cell at Community Corrections Center in Omaha.
  • Bentley Bruckner, who died Feb. 26, 2020, in Omaha Correctional Center of unknown causes, according to the Lincoln Journal-Star.
  • Brittany Madson, who died May 9, 2020, after she was ejected from a vehicle that crashed during a police pursuit near Carter Lake.
  • Calvin Strong, who died May 30, 2020, after police found him with multiple gunshot wounds in the area of 24th and Burdette streets, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
  • Ryan Kortus, who died May 31, 2020.
  • Domonique Allen, who died July 11, 2020.
  • Trista Schaefer, who died Oct. 28, 2020, following a medical emergency, according to the Omaha Daily Record.
  • Kenneth Jones, who died Nov. 20, 2020, in an officer-involved shooting that occurred during a traffic stop at 27th and Harrison streets in Omaha.
  • Daniel Walton, who died Dec. 5, 2020, after he was found unresponsive in his cell.

According to a news release from the court, the grand jury will be tasked with looking into each death to determine whether any formal charges are warranted in connection with the death.

“The court found that for good cause shown... that it would be beneficial, efficient, and cost-effective to the citizens of Douglas County to consolidate the investigation and review of each incident by a single grand jury,” the release states.

The grand jury was to convene Monday to hear evidence presented by Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine, the relese states. By law, grand jury proceedings are conducted in secret, and access to those proceedings is restricted.

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