Nebraska inmate was shot 200 times with pepper balls, beanbags and rubber bullets

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The inspector general of Nebraska’s correctional system released a report this week about an inmate who was shot with around 200 non-lethal rounds.

Now, there are more details about what led up to the incident and what has happened since.

“I saw all of these marks all over his body, and I asked him what happened, and he said, ‘Well, I was shot 200 times,'” Doug Koebernick, the inspector general, recounted.

He checked on the inmate’s story and said he was shocked to find out it was true.

The inmate involved is said to have a severe mental illness.

And one day in June 2021, he began threatening staff at the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution and creating small weapons.

“We were able to watch this whole thing unravel for hours, and it was really shocking,” Koebernick said. “They were being very patient with him, trying to talk him down, but he just kept acting out and he just wasn’t right.”

The report said the scene became chaotic, with several people giving orders.

Then staff began firing pepper balls, beanbags and rubber bullets and deploying flash-bang grenades.

“They just kept going at him over and over and over and yelling at him and doing this just repeatedly as they closed in on him,” Koebernick said. “And it really was something I had not seen during my seven or so years as inspector general.”

Ultimately, around 200 rounds were fired at the inmate.

“The people who were involved in that use of force, they were following the orders that they were told to make him give up his weapons and they were told to keep using force until he gave them up,” he said. “So they were in a really difficult spot.”

In his investigation, Koebernick said he discovered something that took him by surprise: This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to that inmate.

“About five months before that, there was a different incident that took place in a much smaller space, actually, where he was shot about 80 times,” he said.

Koebernick said during the first incident, the staff noticed that the inmate didn’t seem to be affected by the excessive force.

That’s why he said it should have been handled differently the second time.

Also during the June confrontation, a phone call was recorded between the warden and the major in charge.

In the report, Koebernick quotes the warden as saying, “I’d love to shoot him with a Mini-14 and be done with it.”

The warden, who was not named, no longer works for the Department of Correctional Services.

Koebernick said short staffing in prisons can create many problems.

But a report like this can help bring awareness to situations that were mishandled.

He said he discussed the report with the inmate before it was released.

“I think the bottom line for him and what he expressed to me was that he hoped this wouldn’t happen again, and if this report could lead to some changes that would keep someone else from going through that, then he was all in favor of it coming out,” he said.

Categories: Nebraska News, News, Top Stories