No Charges Filed in Shooting Death of James Scurlock


This photo from the Douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds online valuation lookup website shows the front of the Hive and Gatsby bars at 1207 Harney St. Jacob Gardner, manager of the bars according to Nebraska Liquor Control Commission records, shot and killed James Scurlock last Saturday amid a protest in downtown Omaha. Prosecutors have concluded Scurlock's account is consistent with self-defense and declined Monday to file criminal charges in the shooting.
By 
Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

James Scurlock was shot near 12th and Harney streets Saturday night as protesters took to the streets to call for justice in the death of George Floyd, a Minnesotan who died last week in custody as a police officer kneeled on his neck, even as he said “I can’t breathe.”

Scurlock, a 22-year-old, died Saturday at a hospital. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine held a televised news conference Monday afternoon to announce no charges would be filed against the man who shot Scurlock. Kleine said the shooting appears to be an act of self-defense.

“We have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not self-defense,” Kleine said.

Kleine said the shooter, Jake Gardner, claimed that he believed his safety was in jeopardy. Video evidence shown during the news conference shows Gardner and his father in an altercation with a group of people outside Gardner’s bar in the Old Market.

Two people jumped on Gardner, and he discharged two “warning shots,” Kleine described as the shooter’s version of events Scurlock then jumped on him, and Gardner fired a shot that struck Scurlock’s clavicle.

There was not any audio evidence of Gardner using racially charged language or other indications of racial motivation, Kleine said.

Kleine said the justification of self-defense would have also applied to a manslaughter charge. He invited the submission of additional evidence or witnesses that might inform the decision not to file criminal charges.

“At this point in time, this is where we’re at,” Kleine said at Monday’s news conference.

Kleine said that social media was spreading “misinformation,” in particular the false allegation that the shooting was an act of “cold-blooded murder.” He said that some statements made without knowledge of the case have been “irresponsible,” “reckless” and “they’re actually dangerous to our community.”

Scurlock’s father, James Scurlock II, said he asked for a grand jury investigation of his son’s father. He said that had Scurlock’s father had kept his hands to himself, nothing else would have happened.

Justin Wayne, an attorney representing the Scurlock family, said Gardner’s gun was an unlawful concealed carry weapon. Kleine noted in his public remarks that Gardner’s concealed carry permit was expired.

“Every one of those credibility issues should go before a jury,” Wayne said. “Anybody else would have gotten charged with something.”

He added, “We think this was a rush to judgement.”

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