Bar owner charged with manslaughter in James Scurlock shooting death

OMAHA, Neb. (KLKN) — After deliberating for a week, a grand jury has announced that Jake Gardner will be facing charges in the James Scurlock shooting death.

Currently, the charges include manslaughter, use of a firearm to commit a felony, attempted first-degree assault, and terroristic threats.

Special Prosecutor Fredrick Franklin spoke prior to the announcement of the decision. He discussed the previous decision that no charges would be brought against Gardner, as he was believed to be acting in self-defense.

However, Omaha police continued their investigation and brought more evidence to light. The interview about 60 people in connection to the case, according to Franklin, and reviewed several video clips.

This information was then turned over to the grand jury for the final decision. Franklin said the also considered Gardner’s prior activities and evidence gathered from his phone in their decision.

Franklin commented that prior to being presented with this evidence, he believed this was a self-defense case. However, after further evidence was found, Franklin and the jury came to a different conclusion.

Barricades were placed outside the Douglas County-City Hall and several downtown businesses, following a rumor that the decision may spark protests.

“I’ve been alerted to the fact that there were folks just waiting for an outcome that would just reignite a bunch of rioters…. It saddens me to see people have to walk around with those kind of concerns, with businesses having to be boarded up,” commented Franklin. “Engaging in vandalism and the destruction of property… When people engage in that sort of behavior, you are dishonoring the memory of the people that have died.”

James Scurlock was a 22-year-old black man involved in Omaha protests Saturday, May 30th. He was unarmed when shot and killed by local bar owner Jake Gardner early that morning. Gardner claimed he sought to ward off any theft or property damage of his bar, The Hive.

Gardner was charged with misdemeanor gun charges after officials decided he would not be facing any felony charges. The misdemeanor was related to Gardner’s concealed carry permit for the gun being expired at the time of the shooting.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine petitioned a grand jury to look at the evidence in the case. Kleine claimed Gardner feared for his life when he shot Scurlock, who jumped on top of Gardner after the bar owner had already fired two shots.

The shooting happened as protests rippled across the country over the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

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