Man Indicted In James Scurlock's Death Has Died By Suicide

Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash
September 20, 2020 - 6:37pm

Jake Gardner, the man recently indicted by a grand jury in the shooting death of James Scurlock, has died by suicide. That’s according to two attorneys representing Gardner’s family.

Gardner shot Scurlock during a scuffle outside Gardner’s Omaha bar during a protest on May 30. The Douglas County Attorney’s Office declined to press charges, saying Gardner’s actions were justified self-defense.

Attorney Stu Dornan says he advised Gardner to leave the state after receiving death threats on social media, and Gardner has been in northern California since early June.

When a grand jury last week indicted Gardner with manslaughter, Dornan says Gardner had agreed to return to Omaha to face the charges.

"I had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Gardner before his return," Dornan said at a news conference Sunday. "He was really shook up because the grand jury indictment was a shock to him, it was a shock to us."

Dornan says Gardner is a veteran who suffered two traumatic brain injuries. He says Gardner feared for his life the night of the protest and maintains Gardner shot in self-defense.

Special Prosecutor Fred Franklin said last week the grand jury’s indictment was a quote “slam dunk,” supported by evidence that included Gardner’s own statements.

The burden of proof would have been higher in a jury trial. Dornan says the public had already convicted Gardner in their minds.

"The justice system must be allowed to do its work," Dornan said. "Cases should be decided in a courtroom and not on social media in the context of public opinion."

Scurlock family attorney Justin Wayne declined to comment Sunday, saying the family would issue a statement Monday.

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