- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The city of Omaha will pay a $350,000 medical bill because police arrested a man while he was at a hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound in October.

City council member say they’re unhappy about approving a payment Tuesday to Alegent Creighton Health for treatment of Brian Hanzlik-Stuart, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1KKlWp0) reported.

Hanzlik-Stuart was shot and taken to Creighton University Medical Center in critical condition. Police learned he had two outstanding warrants - one for failing to appear on a drug charge in an Iowa court and another for leaving work release in Nebraska.

Unsure of what role Hanzlik-Stuart played in the shooting, police arrested him on the warrants, said deputy city attorney Tom Mumgaard. Police questioned the shooter but didn’t arrest that person. Hanzlik-Stuart later was sentenced to a year in prison for felony escape and is set to be released in September.

He had remained hospitalized through early December 2014 at a cost of around $700,000. Because he was in police custody and lacked means to pay the bill, the city was charged half of the bill.

Mumgaard said it’s common for the city to pay for medical expenses in cases like Hanzlik-Stuart’s, although the suspect usually is arrested later.

Councilman Franklin Thompson wondered why the city would be responsible for the bills of someone who was shot by someone else.

“Someone else shoots him, and now we’re on the hook?” he said. “There’s something wrong with that.”

He said he’d like to take the issue to state lawmakers. But lawyers said that the city might find it difficult to get around its obligation to provide health care to people in custody, which the state Supreme Court found was a part of the constitutional right to due process.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com


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