A white bar owner has been charged in the death of James Scurlock, a 22-year-old Black man who was fatally shot during a Black Lives Matter protest in Omaha.
According to BuzzFeed News, a grand jury indicted 38-year-old Jake Gardner on four charges: attempted first-degree assault, use of a firearm, terror threats, and manslaughter. The shooting reportedly occurred on May 30 outside Gardner's bar in downtown Omaha. Authorities say the bar owner confronted two men outside his establishment as a BLM demonstration was taking place. The altercation quickly escalated with one of the men allegedly pushing Gardner to the ground. Moments later, Gardner allegedly fired two "warning shots," prompting Scurlock—who was allegedly not involved with the initial confrontation—to jump on the bar owner's back. A scuffle ensued and Gardner fired a shot that ultimately killed Scurlock.
Shortly after the deadly shooting, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced he would not bring any charges against Gardner, stating he had acted in self-defense. The case was then presented to a grand jury led by special prosecutor Fredrick D. Franklin.
Franklin said he had anticipated coming to the same conclusion as Kleine; however, his opinion changed after he was presented with additional evidence. The prosecutor said local law enforcement interviewed about 60 people throughout the case and reviewed information from Gardner's cellphone and social media accounts.
"There was evidence that was gathered and presented to the grand jury about activity that Jake Gardner was engaged in prior to even coming in contact with James Scurlock," Franklin said. "Evidence to reasonably be construed as an intent to use a firearm for purposes of killing someone. You will want to know what it is, and I can't tell you about it. But what I can tell you is that that evidence comes primarily from Jake Gardner himself."
Omaha police said Gardner has yet to be arrested, but is expected to turn himself in.
"We are happy, but we recognize that these are still crumbs thrown at us from a white supremacist system," said Bear Alexander, a member of the Omaha-based ProBLAC organization, told BuzzFeed News. "The fact that it had to go to the grand jury is shameful. We are now changing our signs and chants from 'arrest Jake Gardner' to 'convict Jake Gardner,' and it is still 'no justice, no peace.'"