The white Omaha bar owner charged in the May killing of a Black protester died by suicide Sunday, his lawyers said.
Jacob Gardner, 38, was scheduled to return to Omaha that evening to hand himself over after a grand jury indicted him last week, attorney Stu Dornan said at a press conference Sunday. Gardner, who died outside Portland, Oregon, was facing charges of manslaughter, attempted first-degree assault, making terroristic threats and weapons use in the killing of James Spurlock.
James Scurlock, 22, was shot on May 30 while protesting the police killing of George Floyd.
Gardner was taken into custody on May 30 following the shooting and was released the next day. Prosecutor Don Kleine declined to press charges on the grounds that Gardner had been acting in self-defense when the shots were fired.
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The deadly incident in Omaha, Nebraska between Scurlock, Gardner and a few other unidentified people happened amid protests in the city against police brutality in the wake of Floyd’s death on May 25 in Minneapolis.
Gardner was pushed down during a scuffle and fired two shots, Kleine said in June. Scurlock then jumped on top of Gardner and “maintained a chokehold around his neck,” while Gardner could be heard saying “get off me” many times, Kleine said. Gardner fired his gun again, fatally striking Scurlock in the clavicle outside the bar he owned.
The confrontation began when Gardner’s father pushed some of the protesters when asking them to leave the bar, Kleine said. One of the protesters apparently pushed back at Gardner’s father, which is when Gardner intervened.
Special prosecutor Fred Franklin, who led the grand jury, told the Omaha World-Herald he expected to uphold Kleine’s finding, but said evidence pointed elsewhere after reviewing Gardner’s words, texts, messages and interactions with bystanders.
“Gardner was threatening the use of deadly force in the absence of being threatened with … deadly force by James Scurlock or anyone who was associated with him,” Franklin said, according to the World-Herald.
Justin Wayne, the lawyer for Scurlock’s family, could not be immediately reached for comment, but told the World-Herald it was wouldn’t be appropriate to comment this soon after Gardner’s death.
Ben Kesslen is a reporter for NBC News.
The post Nebraska bar owner charged in killing of Black man during George Floyd protests dies by suicide appeared first on NBC News.