A Nebraska bar owner was charged with manslaughter for fatally shooting a protester, months after prosecutors initially ruled the killing an act of self-defense, according to a local news outlet.
A grand jury on Tuesday indicted Jake Gardner, owner of The Hive bar in Omaha, on charges of manslaughter, attempted first-degree assault, making terroristic threats and weapon use over the May 30 shooting of James Scurlock, the Omaha World-Herald reported.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine initially determined that Gardner, 38, fired in self-defense and would not be charged, according to the New York Post.
A bar owner named #JakeGardner is facing 95 years in prison for shooting a rioter who choked him for 18 seconds before he fired his weapon
I have researched the story, and it’s tough, but the one thing in positive about is you should never lose the right to save your own life!
— Libertarian-In-Chief (@ToddHagopian) September 16, 2020
Gardner fired what he called two warning shots before Scurlock put him in a chokehold, according to Klein.
Critics of Kleine’s decision said Scurlock was attempting to stop Gardner from injuring anyone, according to the Post. Kleine said he wanted people to trust the justice system and asked the grand jury to review the case after receiving criticism.
The grand jury reviewed additional evidence that Kleine did not have, which included messages from Gardner’s phone and Facebook messenger account, special prosecutor Frederick Franklin said, according to the World-Herald. The grand jury also reviewed video inside The Hive, which “was consistent with there being an intentional killing,” Franklin said, according to the Post.
“I can tell you that there is evidence that undermines” claims of self-defense, Franklin said, the Post reported. “And that evidence comes primarily from Jake Gardner himself.”
Gardner will be subject to an arrest warrant if he does not turn himself in, the World-Herald reported. (RELATED: Here Are 5 Times People Rioted Over Police-Related Incidents Before All The Facts Were Out)
“This is not a time for celebration or exuberance. These are simply charges,” Franklin said, the Post reported. “Jake Gardner is a man presumed innocent as I stand here before you right now.”
Franklin added that he hoped the charges would not result in protests, according to the Post.
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