Inmate with alcohol withdrawal died after falling 11 times in Nebraska prison, grand jury finds

December 26, 2018

A grand jury in Lincoln has found no criminal wrongdoing in the death of Tony D. Perez, who died Aug. 6, five days after a Fillmore County judge revoked his bond for two weeks when he showed up drunk at court.

Perez’s death was caused by blunt force head injuries because of falls complicated from alcohol-withdrawal symptoms, according to the grand jury report filed earlier this month.

In it, the grand jury said Perez was taken into custody at the Fillmore County Courthouse on Aug. 1, after he arrived at court with a blood-alcohol level measured at 0.327 percent, more than four times the legal limit to drive. Fillmore County Court Judge Timothy Hoeft ordered his bond revoked and that he be held at the county jail for two weeks.

Two days later, he was transferred to the Saline County jail because of overcrowding.

That night at about 10 p.m., Perez had a seizure and was taken to the Crete Area Medical Center. After he was released at 12:15 a.m. Aug. 4, he was returned to the Fillmore County jail in Geneva.

When his condition grew worse, Perez was taken to the skilled-nursing facility at the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services’ Diagnostic and Evaluation Center in Lincoln.

At about 4 a.m. Aug. 5, a prison corporal saw on a security monitor that Perez had fallen in his cell. After a nurse evaluated him, he was medically cleared and given a pair of slip-resistant socks.

Less than an hour later, he was on the floor of his cell again. He denied falling and said he was fine, according to testimony presented to the grand jury. The nurse medically cleared him again.

But, by 6:50 a.m., prison staff saw Perez had fallen again.

At first they started paperwork to transport him to a local hospital in a state vehicle, but at 7:25 a.m. decided to have him taken by ambulance when his condition continued to decline. At 8:35 a.m., he was taken to Bryan West Campus, where he was declared brain-dead at 9:09 a.m.

The grand jury report said prison staff reviewed the security video to determine how Perez was injured and discovered he had fallen about 11 times, not just three times as staff had thought.

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