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James Scurlock death: Omaha bar owner kills self day he was suppose to turn self in over BLM protester manslaughter

Jake Gardner Omaha suicide
Jake Gardner Omaha bar owner suicide. Also pictured, James Scurlock, BLM protester shot dead (right side).
Jake Gardner Omaha suicide
Jake Gardner Omaha bar owner suicide. Also pictured, James Scurlock, BLM protester shot dead (right side).

Jake Gardner Omaha suicide: Nebraska bar owner indicted in James Scurlock shooting death shoots self dead on day he was suppose to surrender to authorities.

A white Nebraska bar owner charged with manslaughter over the shooting of an unarmed black man during George Floyd protests in May has been found dead from suicide.  

Jake Gardner, an ex-Marine, was indicted by a grand jury last week for fatally shooting 22-year-old James Scurlock in Omaha on May 30.

He was supposed to turn himself in on Sunday – the day he was found dead. 

Stu Dornan, Gardner’s attorney, confirmed his suicide but did not give details WOWT reports.

Gardner’s suicide death is purported to have been the result of the former marine shooting himself in Hillsboro, Oregon over the weekend, Omaha.com reports. Authorities declined to confirm the report.

Capitulating to political pressure to indict Omaha bar owner? 

Gardner, 38, was also facing charges of attempted first-degree assault, threats and using a weapon while committing a felony. 

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine had initially declined to file charges against Gardner, saying he had reviewed witness statements and video and believed the bar owner had feared for his life and had acted in self-defense. 

Kleine, who was criticized for overlooking Gardner’s alleged racist history, followed up by asking the grand jury to review the case.  

Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin in his decision to press manslaughter charges said the grand jury reviewed additional evidence that Kleine didn’t have, including texts from Gardner’s phone, messages on his Facebook profile and his interactions with bystanders before coming into contact with Spurlock. 

He declined to provide specifics of what the new evidence showed except to say it undermined Gardner’s claims of self-defense. 

‘There was significant evidence that was consistent with there being an intentional killing by Jake Gardner and that evidence comes primarily from him,’ Franklin said.

The shooting happened outside Gardner’s bar as protests and civil unrest unfolded in Omaha and across the US in the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Calls of racism

Authorities have said Gardner shot Scurlock outside his downtown bar as he sought to ward off any theft or property damage.

Kleine said surveillance video appeared to show Gardner, his father and protesters exchanging words before Gardner, flashing a gun, backed away. 

Gardner was shoved to the ground by two people before he fired two shots, sending people scrambling. Scurlock then jumped on Gardner’s back and Gardner shot him. 

While there was no audio with the video, Kleine said Gardner warned Scurlock to get off of him several times before he fired the fatal shot.

Critics maintained Scurlock had been trying to stop Gardner from hurting anyone.

Some witnesses initially said that Gardner had allegedly ‘taunted’ protesters and went out to the sidewalk yelling ‘n****r lover’. 

Blind eye to racist views and possible motive for shooting? 

Scurlock’s death sparked protests across Omaha in the days after prosecutors initially declined to file charges.  

In the wake of the shooting, prosecutors were accused of turning a blind eye to the Gardner’s alleged racist views and background.  

Court documents have shown Gardner having a prior criminal record stretching back to the late 1990s, including multiple weapons-related charges, as well as arrests on counts of assault and battery.

In 2016, Gardner, who reportedly self-identifies as a Libertarian, sparked a controversy when he posted on Facebook that transgender women should not use the women’s bathroom at his establishment, unless they have had their ‘appendage’ removed and their identification legally changed.

Just hours before the fatal May episode, Gardner posted a status update on Facebook about protecting his business amid the unrest.

‘Just when you think, ‘what else could 2020 throw at me?’ Then you have to pull 48 hours of military style firewatch,’ Gardner wrote.

Gardner was a retired Marine who served tours of duty in Iraq and Haiti between 2000-2004.  

Gardner had faced up to 95 years in prison if convicted.