John Ezell Jr., 36, is accused of shooting a police officer in Omaha. He was then shot multiple times. Omaha city council voted to pay for his medical bills on Tuesday.
(Omaha Police Department)
The taxpayers in Omaha, Neb., will pay nearly $480,000 in medical bills for a suspect of whom the police wounded by gunfire after he allegedly shot an officer from Sept. 11, the members of the city council decided this week in a 6-1 vote.
The officers beat suspect John Ezell Jr., 36, multiple times after he fired at Omaha Police Gang Unit Officer Ken Fortune, 42, striking the officer in the shoulder, during a traffic stop in the city, authorities said, according to Omaha’s FOX 42.
The officer recovered quickly and was soon released from a hospital, but the suspect spent about a month recovering, racking up the medical bills of a total of $479,341.25, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
The city initially agreed to pay half the cost, with Ezell responsible for the remaining $239,670.63. But Tuesday’s vote means that the city will pick-up the suspect parts, as well as the newspaper.
“I am sure that it is going to be a number of members of the council, who will hold their nose and vote,” city council President Ben Gray told the newspaper prior to the vote. “I am one of them. We are obliged to do it.”
John Ezell Jr., 36, is accused of shooting a police officer in Omaha
The city has a constitutional obligation to provide medical treatment to those who need it, while in the police, Assistant City Attorney Jeff Bloom told the World-Herald. Ezell had no health insurance, and was not covered by Medicaid or Medicare, the report said.
The fact that Ezell was injured by the police makes the city liable for the costs, Bloom said.
Some members of the city council were still dissatisfied, despite the adoption of Ezell, the medical invoice.
“I think that this is incomprehensible that we should do this,” a member of the board of Brinker Harding told Omaha’s KETV-TV. “I understand that we have to do it, but I think this is something we think of when we talk with our state senators and work something through the unicameral, so that situations when this is not at the expense of the taxpayer.”
Member of the board of Vinny Palmero, however, cast the lone vote against the pay of Ezell, the medical invoice.
“If the police act in good faith and not in a reckless way, such as in this was the case, then we as a city should not be held,” Palmero told the station.
“If the police act in good faith and not in a reckless way, such as in this was the case, then we as a city should not be liable.”
— Vinny Palmero, Omaha city councilmember
Ezell, a reputed member of the gang, has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, assault on an officer and other charges, according to court records. He was being held on $ 3 million bail, the World-Herald reported.
Omaha police officer Ken Fortune, 42, who was shot during a traffic stop on him. 11, has since recovered and returned to duty.
Fortune is with the Omaha Police Department for nearly 11 years, Omaha’s WOWT-TV reported.
Council member Chris Jerram asked the city as a lawyer, a civil action may be brought against Ezell to restore a part of the money, KETV reported. The city attorney’s office assured Jerram that such an attempt would be made.
The police told the World-Herald that Ezell was drunk when he fired at Fortune during a traffic stop. She said Ezell was a passenger in a vehicle being chased by the police.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.