In the midst of the mostly peaceful protesting that took place in cities across America this past weekend, one fatality did occur in the Old Market area of Omaha, NE, Saturday night. It was there that 22-year-old James Scurlock was shot by Jacob Gardner, owner of The Hive and Gatsby’s. At the time of the incident, Gardner was immediately taken into custody, but today Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced that there would be no charges filed against the killer.
While calling Scurlock’s death “senseless,” during a press conference today Kleine showed video of the altercation between Scurlock, Gardner, and Gardner’s dad which led to the determination that the killing was in self-defense.
“You can’t use deadly force to protect property. Deadly force can only be used if someone is in fear of their own life or serious bodily injury and they don’t feel like they can retreat safely,” Klein explained, according to KETV. “Even if they are mistaken, if their beliefs have a reasonable basis, it’s justifiable for them to use deadly force…that’s what the law is.”
KETV went on to explain the chain of events as relayed by Kleine:
“Kleine walked the audience through the footage, showing footage that he said shows the father of the bar owner pushing young people in the area, then being shoved. The bar owner came up, asking, ‘Who did that? Who pushed my dad?’ Someone is heard in the video saying, ‘he has a gun on him,’ referring to the bar owner. Kleine draws attention to the fact that windows are seen broken out of the bar.
“Kleine said the video shows a group of people surrounding the bar owner, tackling him and one shot was fired. Kleine said Scurlock jumps on the bar owner and the man fires another shot, fatally wounding Scurlock.
“Kleine said the bar owner is heard saying, “Get off me, get off me, please get off me,” before the final shot is fired.”
According to WOWT.com, when Garner was interviewed with his lawyers present at Omaha Police Headquarters, he said his first shot was intended to be a warning shot. The second shot he fired struck Scurlock in the collarbone and he died after being taken to Nebraska Medical Center. According to the news outlet, Kleine said, “Scurlock jumped on him and he was scared Scurlock was going to take his gun. He fired in self-defense. He was scared he would lose his life or suffer bodily injury.”
Prior to today’s decision, Justin Wayne, who is acting as a representative for the Scurlock’s family, urged attorney Kleine to file charges against Gardner.
“In this community, we prosecute Black and brown individuals a lot more for things like we just watched,” he stated. “(Gardner) had an unlawful carry concealed weapon. We watched a video where anybody else would have gotten charged with something. We are asking for a grand jury and charges to be brought against (Gardner).”
James Scurlock II, the victim’s father, also pleaded for justice to be served. “Last night I lost a son, my wife lost a son, my kids lost a brother,” he said Sunday. “His daughter lost a father. All because he decided to protest against racism. There’s a lot of speculation and rumors about how this happened. I don’t really care to be honest. My family wants closure and peace. I’ve already been harassed by people. What we want is for this to go to court and get a full prosecution. We want this to go with justice and go peacefully.”
In relaying today’s decision, Kleine said there is “troubling” misinformation being spread on social media in regard to the events that transpired Saturday night. Denying his office is in possession of any video with audio in which racial slurs were being thrown, Kleine encouraged the public to come forward if they have more evidence regarding this case.
“The other thing I would ask if there is any other evidence that people are aware of– other videos, other witnesses, anything else that would guide us or help us in the decision making process– we would still like that to come forward because I’m going to talk to you about the decision we’ve made based on this point in time.”