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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Jimmy Levering, an infamous leader of the 29th Street Bloods street gang, had just been gunned down outside a northeast Omaha bar

07:43 | , ,

Jimmy Levering, an infamous leader of the 29th Street Bloods street gang, had just been gunned down outside a northeast Omaha bar and pronounced dead at Creighton University Medical Center.

Between 30 and 50 family members, friends and gang associates filled the lobby of Creighton's emergency room. Many of them believed that a police officer fired the fatal round, though authorities later said that wasn't true.

That was the situation when the controversial arrest of Robert Wagner unfolded just past 3:30 a.m. on May 29, 2011.

The basic outline of the disturbance has been known for months, based on earlier reports, video footage from the scene and testimony from Wagner's trial on an assault charge.


Jimmy Levering

But new details about the night's volatile environment at the medical center have been revealed in depositions and interview excerpts cited in an arbitrator's ruling, which was obtained by The World-Herald.

According to that report, officers who were called to the hospital for crowd control reported that the group was angry and agitated. Some people were making statements like “(Expletive) the police” and “Kill the police.”

An agitated Robert Wagner, one of Levering's cousins, was pacing in the lobby, police said.

Officer Jackie Dolinsky — called back to work because a series of “help an officer” distress calls had spread police ranks thin — was among those at the hospital.

She testified she saw Wagner with his left hand in his waistband and thought he might have a weapon, although police found out later he did not.

Officers testified that Wagner got even more upset at the sight of City Councilman Ben Gray in the emergency room. Gray spent much of the night in a nearby waiting room with Levering's family.

Officers testified they told Wagner to leave the hospital after he cursed at Gray and called him an “Uncle Tom.”

A detective testified that Wagner started to leave, moved just outside the doors, but then turned and cursed at officers and made more threatening comments. So the detective ordered his arrest.

Officer Scott Zymball testified he grabbed Wagner's left wrist. Wagner pulled away and swung with his right arm, striking Zymball in the head, the officer testified.

Other officers pounced. Two Tasers were deployed. One officer said he struck Wagner's leg with a baton as others piled on.

Another officer said it took his entire body weight to bring the 6-foot-4, 320-pound Wagner under control.

Dolinsky testified that she used a Taser on Wagner, then kicked at his leg when she thought he was trying to reach a knife in her pocket.

Officer Aaron Pennington testified he thought Wagner pulled at his gun belt. Surveillance camera footage shows Pennington pulling on Wagner's head before delivering punches, kicks and stomps as police worked to handcuff Wagner.

As officers scuffled with Wagner outside, the crowd inside rushed to the lobby doors. Two State Patrol troopers held the doors shut as irate onlookers pounded on the glass.

“I thought for sure that the glass was going to break,” Officer Ruben Soto testified.

Wagner was charged with felony assault on a police officer. The case ended in a mistrial in April, and Wagner subsequently pleaded no contest to attempted assault on an officer, a misdemeanor.

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