*Jake Gardner, the white bar owner who fatally shot a 22-year-old Black man during a Black Lives Matter protest in Omaha on May 30, has been charged with multiple felonies, including manslaughter.
The grand jury rejected Gardner’s claims that he acted in self-defense in the death of James Scurlock. He also faces charges of attempted first-degree assault, making terroristic threats and weapon use.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine refused to bring any charges against Gardner, stating he acted in self-defense. The case was then presented to a grand jury led by special prosecutor Fredrick D. Franklin, per Complex.
“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.”
The White Bar Owner Who Killed Black Lives Matter Protester James Scurlock Has Been Charged https://t.co/rW8yZftTAT
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) September 16, 2020
The quick decision to initially not file charges was viewed by many in the community as an example of the ingrained racism within the criminal justice system that has been the subject of nationwide protests.
In addition to several witnesses who said they made repeated attempts to provide police with crucial information in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Yahoo News spoke to more than half a dozen people, including former employees and patrons of Gardner’s bar, the Hive, who gave firsthand accounts of racist comments and discriminatory policies they say Gardner used. Two family members also offered unique insight into the unabashedly racist culture in which, they say, Gardner was raised.
Omaha police said Gardner has yet to be arrested.
“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.’”
If convicted, Gardner could face up to 95 years in prison, per omaha.com.