How a grand jury investigation works in Nebraska

Published: Nov. 29, 2017 at 5:11 PM CST
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Changes to the state’s grand jury investigation will now allow the public to find out what went on behind closed doors. But while the jury goes through its process, everything is secret.

There's a curtain by the door and a deputy sheriff standing guard in the Douglas County Courthouse. The grand jury process is like a police investigation.

"It's a history that we don't want. The justice system doesn't want witnesses afraid to come forward. At least the public doesn't know,” said Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine.

The current grand jury is looking into the in custody death of Zachary Bearheels and interested members of the public can now see how the grand jury came to its decision.

"We had the law changed in Nebraska. So, after the fact, people can look at what went on in the grand jury, see a transcript, and see what the evidence was before the grand jury, after they've made a decision, but not prior to,” he said.

Two Omaha police officers were fired and charged in the Bearheels case. Kleine has charges pending against the two officers.

"We'll see what the grand jury does then we'll make a decision between us and the Attorney General’s Office that is handling this grand jury at this point and time,” said Kleine.

Kleine says there are no timetables with the grand jury – everyone will have to wait until the work behind the curtain is done.