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Douglas County grand jury returns no charges in 15 in-custody deaths

Douglas County grand jury returns no charges in 15 in-custody deaths

Take a look at the top photos from 2020 as captured by the photojournalist of the Omaha World-Herald

A Douglas County District Court grand jury has returned no indictments against anyone present in the cases of 15 people who died in jail or while in the presence of police.

The 16 jurors, who met in secret, did issue a report on one of the deaths: the Feb. 20, 2020, death of Bentley Bruckner, 58. Jurors said prison officials at the state-run Omaha Correctional Center should be performing medical screenings of all inmates they put into isolation. As it was, Bruckner was in an isolated cell when he died of heart problems associated with a clogged artery.

“Any inmate placed in isolation (should) receive a full medical assessment prior to placement in isolation so that any medical needs can be documented and addressed at that time,” the grand jury’s report said.

The grand jury returned no indictments in these cases:

The Nov. 20, 2020, shooting of Kenneth Jones during an Omaha police traffic stop near 27th and Harrison Streets. Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer has said Officer Dan Faulkner shot and killed Jones, 35, after Jones would not obey police commands to show his hands. He was shot while he had a gun in his hand, Schmaderer has said.

The Dec. 31, 2019, shooting death of Terry Hudson. Responding to a 911 call about a domestic disturbance, officers could hear a woman yelling, “No, Terry.” They then heard gunshots as they burst through the door and retreated. Hudson, 57, came out of the apartment with a gun in his hand, police said, and two of the three responding officers fired at him. The shots struck and killed Hudson. Officers then found Dana Wells, 58, dead in the apartment from a gunshot wound.

The Dec. 5, 2020, asphyxiation of Daniel Walton, 23. Walton used a Douglas County Jail-issued mask to choke himself to death. He had been booked into the jail earlier that day on suspicion of domestic assault.

The August 2019 death of Terrance Lovelle Newsome, 49. Newsome shot and missed police officers who were trying to arrest him near 65th Street and Sorensen Parkway on a California warrant in a kidnapping case. He then shot and killed himself.

The October 2019 death of Robert Jensen. Jensen, 29, had indicated that he was going to harm himself after a domestic incident with a girlfriend near 49th and Boyd Streets. Police tried to talk him down, but Jensen shot and killed himself.

The May 9, 2020, crash that killed Brittany Madson, 30. Carter Lake police tried to pull over Madson, but she didn’t stop. She led them on a chase that ended when her vehicle left the road on Gallup’s riverfront campus. Madson was ejected from the vehicle and died.

The May 30, 2020, death of Calvin Strong Sr. Charles Turner, 39, told Omaha police that Strong had kicked in his bedroom door near 25th and Leavenworth Streets and began to assault him. Turner, who said he feared for his life, put Strong in a chokehold until police arrived.

Medics arrived, began CPR on Strong and took him to a hospital, where he was declared dead. Police said they interviewed multiple witnesses whose stories were consistent with Turner’s. Strong tested positive for multiple drugs, including PCP, the Douglas County Attorney’s Office has said. Strong was the father of two standout North High School football players.

The July 11, 2020, death of Domonique Allen. Allen, 25, shot herself after police arrived at her west Omaha apartment on reports of a domestic disturbance between Allen and her partner.

Grand jurors cleared officials in several other jail or prison deaths.

Deaths at the Douglas County Jail included: Michael Truscott, 49, who died of a brain hemorrhage on Sept. 18, 2018; Jessica Wolfe, 32, who died of natural causes on Oct. 12, 2019; Jesus Munoz, 22, who died of medical complications from dehydration on Jan. 25, 2020; Ryan Kortus, a 26-year-old former Marine who used an article of clothing to hang himself on May 31, 2020; and Trista Schaefer, 36, who died Oct. 28, 2020, of blunt-force trauma after jumping off a second-floor balcony and landing on her head.

Deaths at the Omaha Correctional Center included Bruckner, who died of heart disease, and Carmichael Elya, 21, a work-release inmate who died of “multidrug toxicity” on Feb. 4, 2020.

Notable Nebraska crime news of 2021

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Reporter - Courts

Todd Cooper covers courts, lawyers, trials, legal issues, the justice system and government wrongdoing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @CooperonCourts. Phone: 402-444-1275.

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