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White Bar Owner Who Killed Black Protestor James Scurlock Acted in Self-Defense, Prosecutor Says He Won’t Face Charges

James Gardner reportedly shot Scurlock during a scuffle in Omaha’s Old Market Neighborhood, the victim later died at the hospital.

Trigger Warning, Brutality.

In Omaha, Nebraska, a white bar owner who reportedly shot and killed a black protestor, James Scurlock will not face charges. According to CBS, the owner of The Hive Bar and Gatsby Bar, Jacob Gardner shot Scurlock after a fight broke out. The county attorney, Don Kleine shared Gardner was acting in self-defense. 

The shooting took place in Omaha’s Old Market neighborhood amid ongoing protests against the violent incident that led to George Floyd’s death. The Douglas County Attorney’s office determined Gardner was defending himself following an interview and after viewing videos of the incident. 

“There was a consensus… that the actions of the shooter were justified,” Kleine said on Monday. “There wasn’t any big disagreement about what happened here.”

According to the prosecutor, the incident happened after Gardner’s father pushed several protesters when asking them to leave the bar. Footage from the bars shows Gardner and Scurlocks’s group getting into a verbal altercation, reports Complex. Gardner then walked backward and showed his handgun underneath his shirt. Two young people who accompanied Scurlock, including a man and woman, proceed to tackle Gardner onto his back on the ground. 

Following this scuffle, Gardner fired twice into the air, he described them as warning shots to the Omaha police. Scurlock then reportedly jumps on Gardner’s back, while Gardner says “get off me” several times. Gardner then fires the gun over his shoulder. The bullet hit Scurlock in the clavicle. Scurlock later was pronounced dead at the hospital due to his injuries. 

“Mr. Gardner, as we know now, has said, ‘I did what I did to defend myself,’ and we find that we can’t disprove that from the evidence that we have,” Kleine added during the press conference held on Monday. He also noted there “was never any racial tone to any of the conversation” between Gardner and Scurlock. 

Gardner was taken into police custody and released on Sunday. He had a concealed carry permit that was expired. 

“I honestly feel that if Mr. Gardner’s dad would’ve kept his hands to himself the incident would’ve never happened in the beginning,” James Scurlock II, the victim’s father, shared. “Once again I ask that we investigate this and I ask my people to stand by me strong but do it peacefully.”

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts didn’t diminish Klein’s decision, he accepted it, but Nebraska State Senator Justin Wayne didn’t agree. On Monday, when speaking on behalf of the Scurlock family he said they are continuing to explore “all legal options.”

In a Facebook video, Wayne expressed additional thoughts on the violent incident:

“In this community, we prosecute black and brown individuals a lot more for things like we just watched. It’s easy to talk to someone when they’re alive. It’s easy to get their version of the story when they can talk. We don’t know what James would’ve said.”

He shared additional thoughts on Twitter and touched on the state’s self-defense law.  “NONE of these circumstances were present. NONE. The State of Nebraska does NOT allow you to use deadly force to defend property. Further it is NOT a valid defense if you could have retreated.”

Robyn Mowatt

Robyn Mowatt is a Staff Writer at Okayplayer where she covers culture, music, and fashion. You can see what's on her mind on Twitter at @robyn_mowatt.

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