In Custody Death Under Investigation
The Lincoln Police Department is investigating the death of a 23 year old man while in police custody, which occurred on Friday, September 19, 2008. The deceased is:
Gabriel Shane Bitterman
Date of birth 8-20-1985
1255 S. 27th St. Apt. 3
At 2:55 AM, police officers were dispatched to Mr. Bitterman's residence after a neighbor called 911 reporting a domestic. The first officer arrived at the apartment building at 2:58 AM. After hearing the victim screaming, the officer notified dispatchers that he was entering the apartment at 2:59 AM. The officer discovered Mr. Bitterman and his 19 year old girlfriend in the bedroom of the apartment they share. The girlfriend had been forced into the bedroom by Mr. Bitterman, and was he was armed with a knife.
Preliminary investigation shows that Mr. Bitterman had cut himself with the knife and made statements to the girlfriend about harming himself. Mr. Bitterman turned to face the officer with the knife. After repeated orders from the officer to drop the knife were ignored, the officer discharged a TASER one time, striking Mr. Bitterman. The girlfriend ran from the bedroom, and Mr. Bitterman was then taken into custody without further incident. The officer immediately radioed for an emergency medical response, at 3:00 AM.
Within the next few minutes, Mr. Bitterman stopped breathing. Officers were in the process of taking steps to initiate CPR when Lincoln Fire & Rescue personnel arrived on the scene. Mr. Bitterman died at Bryan/LGH Medical Center West shortly after 4:00 AM. An autopsy is pending.
The officer who discharged the TASER is presently on administrative leave while an internal investigation is underway. In addition to the internal investigation to determine compliance with department policies, investigators and detectives of the Criminal Investigations Team are conducting a separate investigation, which is normal protocol in such cases. By law, all deaths in police custody require a grand jury investigation.