Jake Gardner

Jake Gardner

(Omaha) -- The Omaha bar owner who faced charges in the shooting death of James Scurlock has died by suicide.

Jake Gardner was indicted by a grand jury last week on charges of manslaughter, use of a firearm to commit a felony, attempted first-degree assault and making terroristic threats. The charges stem from an incident in May when Gardner shot and killed Scurlock outside of his downtown bar during protests over the police killing of George Floyd. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine declined to bring charges, but a special prosecutor was called and the grand jury returned the indictment last week. Gardner was found dead by suicide near Portland, Oregon Sunday. Gardner's Attorney Stu Dornan says Gardner had every intention of returning to Omaha to face the charges.

"I want to make it very clear that Mr. Gardner was coming back to Omaha," said Dornan.  "And I want to make it very clear that this was a clear case of self-defense that was decided by Don Kleine and his office."

Dornan made the announcement at the request of Gardner's family. He says the entire incident was unfortunate.

"It's a terrible tragedy for the Omaha community," said Dornan.  "It's a terrible tragedy for James Scurlock and his family.  Our condolences are with them and condolences from the Gardner family.  It is a terrible tragedy for the Gardner family and a terrible tragedy for this community."

Video of the incident in May shows Gardner's father and a protestor arguing outside of Gardner's bar. Following a shoving match, Gardner showed a hand gun. Two protestors jumped on Gardner's back and he fired two warning shots before being put in a headlock. Authorities say Gardner then shot and struck Scurlock -- who was not part of the initial confrontation -- in the clavicle. Dornan says the indictment was a shock to Gardner.

"That night down in the Old Market was a crossroads of where anger and fear met," said Dornan.  "And unfortunately, violence ensued and two young men -- as a result of that -- have lost their life."

Dornan says cases like this should be decided in a court of law and not on social media.

"This violence must stop," said Dornan.  "The justice system must be allowed to do its work.  Cases should be decided in a courtroom and not on social media in the context of public opinion."

Dornan says Gardner left the Omaha area in June at his request. He says Gardner hired a bodyguard because of threats on social media.

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