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  • Writer's pictureTanya

Omaha awaits Grand Jury decision regarding charges on Jacob Gardner for the murder of James Scurlock

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

In Omaha, many people in the community are waiting on pins and needles for the grand jury's response regarding the murder of James Scurlock at the hands of white bar owner of "The Hive", Jacob "Jake" Gardner. During the time of the recent George Floyd protests, on the evening of Saturday, May 30, 2020, James Scurlock, a 22-year-old African-American man, was fatally shot by Gardner. What intensified this incident, was his prior Facebook posts where he stated he would be standing post to protect his establishment from possible looters or vandalism. What he specifically posted was "just when you think what else could 2020 throw at me? Then you have to pull 48 hours of military style firewatch". (See pic below) Keep in mind that it was already recommended that downtown business owners not try to take matters into their own hands if something like that would occur. And while some people protested peacefully, others did in fact start looting and vandalizing establishments.

Whether Scurlock was or was not part of the latter protesters that evening, he and Gardner ended up in an altercation. I say whether he was or was not because there are so many different speculations, and some from grainy video footage. But video footage did show Scurlock and others he was with, cross paths with Gardner's father, David Gardner. In this footage you can clearly see David Gardner violently shove someone several times, that were protesting. And from what some witnesses claim, and from the video, it appears that Scurlock was coming to the defense or to assist those that were being shoved. But of course, everyone doesn't see it the same way. Other witnesses and those who have seen the footage believes that Scurlock was indeed looting and vandalizing along with other protestors before the altercation.

What happened next in response to David's actions, was him being punched and knocked off his feet. Then a verbal altercation ensued between Jacob and a group of protesters that he had believed pushed his father. At one point Jacob lifted up his shirt to show that he had a concealed handgun in his waistband, for which he no longer had a concealed license for. Jacob was then jumped on from the back by two protesters, in what some say was to try to take the gun from him, in fear that he might shoot someone. That led to Jacob firing two rounds into the air, which made those two protesters run off. Right after that, is when Scurlock jumped on Jacob's back as he was getting up and held him on the ground in a chokehold or a headlock. After struggling for approximately 20 seconds, Jacob fired a third shot behind his back. That last shot struck Scurlock in his clavicle. As a result, and due to his injuries, he was taken to Nebraska Medicine, where he later died.

Later that night, Jacob found himself in police custody. Douglas County Attorney, Don Kleine did eventually review the evidence, including interviews and witnesses, but of course the outcome wouldn't make everyone happy. Although some called it premeditated murder, especially after allegations of Jacob being a racist, and his Facebook posts, the authorities claimed it was self-defense, which is not being widely accepted in the Omaha community.

So, following the George Floyd protests, were the James Scurlock protests due to the civil unrest of the community, from Jacob Gardner not being charged for murder. But not only that, many people found it unacceptable that he wasn't even charged for carrying a concealed weapon with an expired concealed license. The Scurlock family's attorney and Nebraska State Senator, Justin Wayne, asked Kleine to send the case to a grand jury. He explained Gardner should face charges, like manslaughter, and/or for at least a concealed carry permit violation, or for firing gunshots within Omaha city limits.

The grand jury convened Tuesday, September 7, 2020 to determine if any criminal charges should be filed in the May 30, 2020 death of Scurlock. As of late, there has been a lot more police presence downtown, and rumors of businesses in Downtown and Old Market being instructed to close ahead of a major disruption by protests. This is leading many to believe that the decision has already been made to not charge Jacob, even though authorities are saying otherwise. But also because of photos being shown in the media of the courthouse being barricaded last week (see below pic) and extra police presence, it is believed by protest organizers that the city is prepared for more civil unrest, due to an already made up decision. A decision in which Jacob might not be facing charges for the murder of James Scurlock.

So many questions have arose from the community since that night. Was Gardner’s father justified in originally shoving a protester? Was it indeed in fact premeditated murder? Shouldn't Jacob Gardner have at least been charged for not having a concealed weapons permit? And now the big question is, will the decision be made to indict Gardner for the murder of James Scurlock or not? That answer is up in the air right now for the City of Omaha. Please stay tuned for more details to follow.

The below post was what Jacob "Jake" Gardner posted on his Facebook page a short while before he shot and killed Scurlock......

Below is a pic of the courthouse being barricaded.

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