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Court dismisses Bearheels grand jury transcripts appeal

January 25, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal of prosecutors who had sought to seal grand jury transcripts in which two former Omaha police officers were indicted in the stun gun death of a mentally ill man.

The case stems from the June 5, 2017, death of 29-year-old Zachary Bearheels as Omaha officers trying to take him into custody. Police video shows one officer repeatedly punching Bearheels, who was already on the ground. Another officer shocked Bearheels repeatedly with a stun gun. An autopsy determined Bearheels didn’t die directly from the shocks but from “excited delirium.”

A special prosecutor who sought to have the grand jury transcripts sealed argued that releasing them could taint jurors. But the state’s high court found Friday that the decision to release the transcripts was not a final, appealable order.

One of the former officers, Scotty Payne, was acquitted last month of second-degree assault. The other ex-officer, Ryan McClarty, is awaiting trial on misdemeanor assault.

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