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Follow Live: Grand jury indicts Jake Gardner for manslaughter in death of James Scurlock
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Follow Live: Grand jury indicts Jake Gardner for manslaughter in death of James Scurlock

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Fred Franklin

Special prosecutor Fred Franklin announces charges in the shooting death of James Scurlock. 

A grand jury charged a 38-year-old white bar owner with manslaughter and three other felonies in connection with the May 30 death of a 22-year-old Black Omahan during protests in downtown Omaha.

Grand jurors, who met for four days and deliberated this week, charged Jake Gardner, 38, with manslaughter, defined as the killing of another during a sudden quarrel. The former owner of The Hive and Gatsby bars also faces a charge of attempted first-degree assault, terroristic threats and use of a weapon to commit a felony. If convicted of all four counts, he could face up to 95 years in prison.

The indictment was a seismic shift from 107 days ago, when Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine declined to file charges against Gardner. Gardner, Kleine said, had fired in self-defense after Scurlock jumped on him.

Special prosecutor Fred Franklin said he told grand jurors that he initially had expected to come to the same conclusion as Kleine. However, the investigation revealed evidence of the intent of Gardner.

“I can tell you that there is evidence that undermines that,” Franklin said. “Again, that evidence comes primarily from Jake Gardner himself.”

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