- Associated Press - Monday, December 17, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Omaha taxpayers must cover a nearly $240,000 medical bill for a man who was shot by police officers after he shot one of them, city officials said.

John Ezell Jr., 36, spent more than a month in Nebraska Medical Center after he was wounded on Sept. 11, Assistant City Attorney Jeff Bloom said.

Ezell was a passenger in a car that police stopped. Authorities say he shot and wounded Officer Ken Fortune as he approached the vehicle and that he shot at other officers before he was hit several times by their return fire.

He has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, assault on an officer and other charges, according to court records. They don’t list a trial date.

Fortune has recovered and returned to duty.

Bloom said the city is constitutionally required to provide medical treatment to people who need it while in police custody, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

It’s understandable if some people object to the city picking up the medical tab, particularly for someone accused of firing at police, said Sam Walker, an emeritus professor in the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

But Walker said there are compelling issues at play in this instance.

“We try to make this a decent and humane society, and if someone is injured, the person who caused that (the police) should be liable,” he said.

Bloom said the city liability would have been reduced if Ezell were insured, but he wasn’t.

Ezell’s medical bill actually was more than $479,000, but the hospital agreed to halve it. The City Council is set to vote Tuesday on paying the bill.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a number of council members who will hold their nose and vote for it,” said City Council President Ben Gray. “I’m going to be one of them. We’re obligated to do it.”


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

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