Jacob Gardner—owner of the Hive Bar and Gatsby Bar—was taken into custody following the shooting. Now, county attorney Don Kleine says the shooter was “defending himself,” CBS News reports.
Scurlock was killed by Gardner amid protests against police brutality. “There was a consensus... that the actions of the shooter were justified,” Kleine said. “There wasn't any big disagreement about what happened here.”
Prosecutors say that the incident happened after Gardner’s father confronted several protesters and asked them to leave the bar. Surveillance footage from the bars shows Gardner and Scurlock’s group getting into a verbal altercation, as Gardner walks backward and reveals the handgun under his shirt. Two young people who were with Scurlock—a man and woman—then tackle Gardner onto his back on the ground.
Gardner fires twice into the air, which he described as warning shots to the Omaha police. The two people run away. Seconds later, Scurlock jumps on Gardner’s back, with Gardner saying “get off me” several times before firing the gun over his shoulder, the bullet piercing Scurlock in the shoulder-neck area. Scurlock was taken to the hospital where he tragically succumbed to his injuries.
“Mr. Gardner, as we know now, has said, ‘I did what I did to defend myself,’ and we find that we can't disprove that from the evidence that we have,” Kleine said. He also added that there wasn’t any “racial tone” in regards to the conversation between Scurlock and Gardner.
Gardner was released on Sunday. Prosecutors say that his concealed carry permit had expired.
“I honestly feel that if Mr. Gardner’s dad would’ve kept his hands to himself the incident would’ve never happened in the beginning,” James Scurlock II, the victim's father, said. “Once again I ask that we investigate this and I ask my people to stand by me strong but do it peacefully.”
While Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts accepted Klein’s decision, Nebraska State Sen. Justin Wayne criticized the decision, saying the Scurlock family is exploring “all legal options.”
“In this community, we prosecute black and brown individuals a lot more for things like we just watched,” Wayne said in a Facebook video. “It's easy to talk to someone when they're alive. It's easy to get their version of the story when they can talk. We don't know what James would've said.”
Touching on the subject of the state's self-defense law, Wayne tweeted, “NONE of these circumstances were present. NONE. The State of Nebraska does NOT allow you to use deadly force to defend property. Further it is NOT a valid defense if you could have retreated.”