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White bar owner charged with manslaughter for May shooting of Black protester

James Scurlock was fatally shot as he was protesting in Omaha, Nebraska.

James Scurlock Facebook

A white business owner who fatally shot a Black man during protests in Omaha, Nebraska has been charged with manslaughter and several other charges.

According to USA Today, Jake Gardner was hit with a slew of charges from a grand jury after he shot and killed 22-year-old James Scurlock on May 30. Aside from manslaughter, he was also charged with making terroristic threats, attempted assault and using a gun to commit a felony.

Scurlock was protesting with his friends following the killing of George Floyd, which took place a few days prior. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine believed Gardner acted in self-defense after reviewing video surveillance and witness statements.

After Kleine declined to file charges against Gardner, the case went to a grand jury. Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin said that the grand jury interviewed over 60 witnesses, reviewed video footage from the public and reviewed Gardner’s cellphone and social media accounts for their investigation. The weekend of the shooting, Gardner wrote on Facebook that he was going to “pull military-style firewatch” at his bars.

“I believe there is competent, credible evidence to support the decision that they in fact did make,” Franklin said. “There was significant evidence that was consistent with there being an intentional killing by Jake Gardner and that evidence comes primarily from him.”

The deadly shooting took place outside of Gardner’s Omaha bar. He claimed he was defending his property from protesters who wanted to damage and steal from his business. Gardner told police that he believed Scurlock was going to grab his gun.

“Last night I lost a son, my wife lost a son, my kids lost a brother,” Scurlock’s father previously said. “His daughter lost a father. All because he decided to protest against racism. There’s a lot of speculation and rumors about how this happened. I don’t really care to be honest. My family wants closure and peace.”

If convicted, Gardner could face up to 95 years in prison.

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