Omaha staggered discovered useless as a person accused of killing Black Lives Matter protesters
A grand jury sued Gardner on September 15 for manslaughter, the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime, attempted first-degree attack and terrorist threats.
At that point he was in Northern California – shaky, scared, and on the run from death threats.
“I’m more afraid now than I was when I flew to Iraq,” the former Marine told Omaha news channel KETV shortly before the charges were revealed.
A police spokesman said they were still waiting for the results of the autopsy on Monday. Stuart J. Dornan, Gardner’s attorney, said Gardner killed himself.
Black pastors and activists in Omaha said that although they were saddened by Gardner’s death, they would not interfere with their search for bigger problems like systemic racism and police brutality in the city.
“I sure don’t want anyone in my community to say this has been brought to a conclusion,” said Preston Love, a longtime civil rights activist and Democrat who is running a US Senate enrollment against Republican Senator Ben Sasse. “This case grew out of an environment that we have to deal with. The fact that we won’t have a trial doesn’t change that. “
Jake Gardner, a white bar owner who was charged with the fatal shooting of a black protester in May, died of suicide on September 20, his lawyer said. (Reuters)
At a press conference on Sunday, Gardner’s attorney Stuart J. Dornan described the former Navy’s death as “a terrible tragedy”. Gardner served two tours in Iraq and had long suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, his lawyers said, adding that he was ready to return to the area to report to authorities Monday night.
“That night in the Old Market was a crossroads between anger and fear and unfortunately there was violence and two young men lost their lives,” said Dornan, referring to the neighborhood where the shooting took place.
Reached by phone, Gardner’s father David said, “I’m sorry, I just have nothing to say.”
Scurlock’s death became a rallying cry – “Justice for James!” – during protests against racial justice after prosecutor Don Kleine ruled that Gardner acted in self-defense. He later reversed course.
Omaha has a long history of racial tension, including the death of 14-year-old Vivian Strong in 1969 by a white cop that sparked riots that left an indelible mark on the city.
“The community is in shock. At the moment, a lot of people are trying to process their feelings, ”said Leo Lewis, chairman of the board of the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation in Omaha, a memorial to the murdered civil rights leader. “Some people are still protesting, others are upset, all the facts are not presented. There we are. “
Last Tuesday, Frederick D. Franklin, a federal attorney with the U.S. law firm in Omaha who acted as special attorney, told a news conference that investigators interviewed 60 witnesses, but Gardner’s own words through text and Facebook messages became the likely cause for the indictment.
The weekend after George Floyd’s death, Gardner wrote on Facebook that he wanted to “pull a military fire station” that weekend in his bar, the Hive, reported the Omaha World-Herald.
“I can tell you that there is evidence that undermines Gardner’s claims to self-defense,” Franklin said. “And that evidence comes mostly from Jake Gardner himself.”
State Senator Justin Wayne, a Democrat who has acted as an attorney for Scurlock’s father James and other family members, said Monday the family were “sad, disappointed, still frustrated with the system” but would not make a formal comment until a press conference is planned for Tuesday.
That Saturday evening in May, Scurlock and some friends were marching through the popular Old Market area when they quarreled with Gardner after someone allegedly bumped into his father David, Kleine said. When Scurlock and a friend approached Gardner, he pulled back and lifted his shirt to reveal a gun in the waistband of his pants. According to cell phone footage, they should stay away.
After a woman jumped on Gardner, he fired two “warning shots” that got both the protester and another protester going. Scurlock jumped on Gardner and placed him in what the bar owner later called the police as a “stranglehold”. With Scurlock on his back, Gardner shot over the shoulder, killing the 22-year-old.
Wayne and Scurlock’s family have denied this version of events, saying that Scurlock jumped on Gardner because he believed he was facing an active marksman.
Kleine initially said he would not bring charges against Gardner. However, the veteran prosecutor later called on a large jury to look into the case.
According to Raneta J. Mack, a law professor at Creighton University in Omaha, this was an unusual move.
“To instill a sense of justice in the community, I think the prosecutor eventually agreed that taking a second look was the best course of action,” Mack said.
The grand jury clearly ruled that there were probable enough reasons to assume Gardner’s text and Facebook messages, but getting a conviction would have been more difficult as Franklin had to prove his case beyond doubt.
“Now we’ll never know the answer to that,” she said.
Many protesters were surprised by the grand jury’s indictment and were ready to take to the streets if the decision didn’t go their way, said Cole Christensen, 28, an activist with local social justice group ProBLAC.
Initially, his reaction was “sadness” that they had to work so hard to get a grand jury rating and worry that people would move on and the movement would lose momentum, he said.
“It was a strange, bittersweet moment,” said Christensen.
Now the group that gathers in Memorial Park every Sunday to plan their next steps is just “totally disbelieving”.
This story has been updated.