A Scotts Bluff County grand jury has cleared law enforcement officers of wrong-doing in the June killing of a man during a standoff with police in Scottsbluff.
The grand jury took testimony from 16 witnesses and considered 1,526 exhibits including video and audio interviews before ending its 3-day session by returning a “no true bill” in the shooting death of 47-year-old Daniel Ojeda, of Scottsbluff.
Police officers were called to Ojeda’s home on June 7th in response to reports of a man with a gun, but found him barricaded inside.
They negotiated for nearly 6 hours using phone calls, bullhorns, and even robots before a Scotts Bluff County SWAT team forcibly entered the home. Ojeda was shot and later died at Regional West Medical Center.
The grand jury ruled Ojeda’s death “was caused by his own action, mental health, and drug use” and that the gunshot wounds from police “ultimately caused his own demise.” Authorities have still not said how many times he was hit.
The grand jury report detailed 5 findings or recommendations, starting with having all law enforcement officers wear body cameras. A Morrill County grand jury made a similar recommendation in the June 28 shooting death of 58-year old Larry Hunt of Bayard.
The Ojeda report also recommended police negotiators be accompanied by a trained mental health professional until they’ve received training on mental health issues, and that all officers be trained on and carry stun guns, even members of the SWAT team.
The grand jury also called for regular training for SWAT members with a minimum of 8 hours over a weekend every month.
Law enforcement robots were also addressed with recommendations their operators receive more training and that the robots themselves be upgraded to allow audio and video recording
Scottsbluff Police Chief Kevin Spencer told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald that he appreciates the grand jury’s work and will give its recommendations “careful consideration” and use them to make “feasible adjustments” to operations.