Prosecutor wants grand jury to review case of Omaha bar owner who fatally shot black protester

The family of a black man killed by a white bar owner during protests in Omaha, Nebraska, believes a prosecutor rushed to judgment by declaring the shooting an act of self-defense.

Posted: Jun 2, 2020 11:06 PM
Updated: Jun 4, 2020 4:30 PM


Days after deciding not to bring charges in the shooting death of James Scurlock, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said Wednesday he is going to petition district court to convene a grand jury with a special prosecutor to review the case.

'I'm not wavering in any way in the decision that we've made on this case or the findings,' Kleine said at the press conference, provided to CNN by affiliate WOWT.

'However, I am not afraid of having a decision that I've made reviewed by others,' he added.

Scurlock, a 22-year-old black man, was fatally shot by a white bar owner during a fight with several people on Saturday night in Omaha, Nebraska, amid protests related to the police killing of George Floyd. Kleine declined to bring charges against the shooter, Jake Gardner, saying he acted in self-defense.

But an attorney for Scurlock's family said the shooter had an expired concealed carry permit and said the failure to bring charges was a rush to judgment.

'We watched a video where anybody else would have gotten charged with something,' said the attorney, Justin Wayne, according to WOWT. 'We are asking for a grand jury and charges to be brought against (Gardner).'

Kleine said Wednesday his decision to ask for a grand jury came after meeting with members of the community. He acknowledged that 'many others do not have the same faith in the system that I do.'

'I would like to do everything I can to assure people that the system works the way it should work,' Kleine said.

Wayne said the move was a step in the right direction.

'We still want witnesses, videos, and evidence to come forward,' Wayne told CNN.

CNN was unable to reach Gardner or any representatives for comment.

Videos show the incident

Two videos depict scenes from the incident. As described by prosecutors, Gardner's father asked protesters outside the Gatsby bar to leave and pushed one. An unidentified man can be seen pushing Gardner's father back, and then Gardner intervened. Scurlock was not part of that group, the family attorney said.

Gardner had a handgun tucked in his waistband and lifted his shirt to show it during his confrontation with protesters, Kleine said of one video.

Two people jumped on Gardner's back, and he fired two warning shots, the county attorney said. Within moments, Scurlock jumped into the fray, according to authorities. Gardner told police he was put in a chokehold and he begged for the assailant to get off of him, according to the county attorney.

Gardner then shot Scurlock in the clavicle, killing him.

'He thought he was in danger of losing his life or serious bodily injury,' Kleine said.

Kleine said that 'there isn't any audio that we have that shows any racial slurs' and, after reviewing the evidence, he doesn't feel that the owner was 'somebody who walked out and was trying to hunt down somebody.'

Wayne, the family attorney, said Scurlock was trying to protect a family member and friend.

'I surely believe none of this would have happened if the bar owner's father didn't put his hands on a young individual ahead of time,' he said.

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