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Grand jury finds no criminal wrongdoing in inmate’s death

December 26, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Lancaster County grand jury investigating the death of an inmate who fell 11 times in his cell has found no criminal wrongdoing by officials.

The death of Tony D. Perez last summer was caused by blunt force head injuries because of falls complicated by alcohol-withdrawal symptoms, according to the grand jury report filed this month. State law requires a grand jury investigation when someone dies in custody or while being arrested.

Perez was arrested Aug. 1 after showing up drunk for a hearing at the Fillmore County Courthouse, the Lincoln Journal Star reported . His blood alcohol level tested out at more than four times the legal limit to drive. The judge revoked his bond and he was taken to the county jail. It’s unclear from court records what led to his being out of custody on bond.

He was taken two days later to the Saline County Jail because of overcrowding at the Fillmore County Jail. Perez had a seizure that night and was taken to the Crete Area Medical Center in Crete, the report said. He was released around 12:15 a.m. Aug. 4 and returned to the Fillmore County Jail in Geneva.

But his condition worsened and he was taken to the state prison department’s Diagnostic and Evaluation Center in Lincoln.

A guard there saw on a security monitor that Perez fell in his cell around 4 a.m. A nurse medically cleared Perez, and he was given some slip-resistant socks. Less than an hour later Perez was seen on his cell floor. The jury report said he denied falling and felt fine.

By 6:50 a.m., he had fallen again.

He was taken by ambulance to a Lincoln hospital at 8:35 a.m. and was declared brain-dead at 9:09 a.m. on Aug. 5.

A review of the cell security video showed Perez had fallen 11 times in his cell, not just the three times that guards had reported.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com