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Family rallies for man killed in 2017 Omaha police struggle

June 6, 2021 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The family of a mentally ill Oklahoma man who died in a struggle with Omaha police four years ago rallied for him Saturday with a silent walk to the place where he died.

Zachary Bear Heels died outside a gas station in June 2017 after Omaha police used a stun gun on him 12 times and punched him in the head, according to Omaha television station KETV. Some of the shocks came while Bear Heels was handcuffed and sitting simply against a vehicle.

Officials said Bear Heels died of excited delirium, physical struggle, physical restraint and use of a stun gun. Family members said the 29-year-old had schizophrenia and was bipolar, something that may have impacted him that night.

All four officers involved were fired after the incident, but three were later reinstated after an arbitration hearing. The officer who remained fired was charged with second-degree assault and use of a weapon, but was later acquitted. The city later paid a $550,000 legal settlement to Bear Heels’ mother.

The rally started at the bus station Bear Heels arrived four years ago. From there, family and community members walked the same 6 1/2 miles that he walked before his encounter with police.