Posted on September 16, 2020

White Bar Owner Indicted in Fatal Shooting of Black Man During Protest

Azi Paybarah, New York Times, September 15, 2020

A white bar owner in Nebraska was indicted on Tuesday in the fatal shooting of a Black man during a protest in May, a case that a prosecutor had initially declined to prosecute after characterizing the bar owner’s actions as self-defense.

The bar owner, Jake Gardner, was indicted by a grand jury in Douglas County on four counts, including manslaughter, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, attempted first degree assault and making terrorist threats, officials said.

The authorities said that Mr. Gardner, 38, confronted a group of men outside one of his bars in Omaha on May 30 and was knocked to the ground. From there, he fired two warning shots and tried to get to his feet, prosecutors said. As he did, Mr. Gardner got into a fight with one man, James Scurlock, 22. The two scuffled before Mr. Gardner fired a shot that killed him.

Mr. Scurlock’s killing drew widespread attention and quickly touched off large demonstrations in Omaha. The police arrested 75 to 100 people the night he was killed, KMTV reported at the time.

The killing of Mr. Scurlock in Omaha came just five days after the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, which prompted protests for police reform across the country.


On June 1, Donald W. Kleine, the Douglas County attorney, announced his decision not to bring a case against Mr. Gardner. A week later, Mr. Kleine said in a statement that after hearing from local residents and elected officials that he would welcome an outside review “in this rare instance.” {snip}