After Arthur Kirk was killed by a Nebraska State Patrol SWAT team, some charged that the killing was not justified and that Kirk was allowed to bleed to death while the Hall County Sheriff was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. The legislature and Governor Bob Kerrey appointed former Lincoln judge Samuel Van Pelt as a special investigator to review the case and the charges.
His report was released in December, 1984. Van Pelt said that the death of Kirk could have been prevented, but police acted in a prudent manner under difficult circumstances. Van Pelt concluded that the slaying of Kirk by the Nebraska State Patrol SWAT team occurred because of "too many unrelated and coincidental factors" and wasn’t an orchestrated killing by police as some of Kirk’s friends had claimed.
The highlights of the report were:
"Kirk’s faith would have been better placed in his own church and religion, or in an agriculturally oriented support group like the Farm Crisis Response Council, sponsored by the Inter Church Ministries of Nebraska."
Finally, Van Pelt said the farm crisis was the real cause of the killing.
"The first causation factor, and the backdrop of the entire scenario, is the farm economy."
It could have been worse. Van Pelt said it’s lucky that the Patrol did not try to use tear gas to catch Kirk. Kirk had a gas mask, and if the Patrol had used gas and then rushed the house — thinking that Kirk was incapacitated — several officers could have been shot. The SWAT team was "passive and not provocative" in its actions, Van Pelt concluded.