Grand Jury Reverses Self-Defense Decision, Indicts Omaha Man for Manslaughter During BLM Riot

Jake Gardner (left) has been charged with first-degree manslaughter for the killing of James Scurlock (right) (Photos: Gardner and Scurlock social media)

An Omaha man who was initially determined to have acted in self-defense is now being charged by a grand jury with manslaughter along with three additional felonies.

The 16-member grand jury indicted Jake Gardner for his role in the killing of 22-year-old James Scurlock during an altercation at a Black Lives Matter protest and riot in May. Gardner has been charged with manslaughter, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, attempted first-degree assault and making terroristic threats.

Immediately following the incident, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced that he would not be filing charges against Gardner. He told the media that his investigation, which included a review of surveillance footage, indicated that Gardner acted in self-defense.

But Kleine received complaints from citizens, according to KMTV, and he agreed to appoint special prosecutor Frederick Franklin III and form a grand jury.

SEE ALSO: Man Shot by Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha Riots Speaks Out: ‘I’m in Constant Pain’

Franklin said during a press conference that the grand jury had evidence based on interviews from 60 people along with additional video and information from Gardner’s cell phone and Facebook messenger account.

“[The grand jury] had much more information available to them than [Kleine] had at the time that the original decision was made,” Franklin said. “That evidence can be reasonably construed as an intent to use a firearm for purposes of killing someone.”

The May incident began when Gardner and his father got into an altercation with Scurlock and his friend, Tucker Randall, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

Grander claims he was sitting inside one of the bars he owns in downtown Omaha when someone shot out his windows. Authorities later identified Randall as having thrown a signpost at the window.

Gardner’s father pushed a woman when he emerged from the bar, and Randall responded by shoving the 69-year-old man to the ground.

Gardner approached and pulled out a handgun. When he returned it to his waistband, a woman tackled Gardner from behind. Gardner, from his back on the ground, fired what have been described as two “warning shots,” which prompted Randall and the other bystanders to flee.

But Scurlock jumped on Gardner’s back and put him in a choke hold, Gardner told police. Scurlock was on Gardner’s back from 18 seconds before Gardner switched the firearm to his left hand and fired over his shoulder, killing Scurlock.

That account of the incident is based on publicly available information, not the evidence the grand jury reviewed.

SEE ALSO: Mayors Call on Trump to Condemn ‘Armed Intimidation and Vigilantism’ to ‘Peaceful Protests’ from Far-Right

Special prosecutor Franklin told reporters that the first-degree manslaughter charge can be applied when someone intentionally kills another person during a sudden quarrel. The evidence for that charge comes from “Gardner himself,” Franklin said, which reveals something about the man’s “state of mind.”

He did not elaborate further, but said Gardner was not indicted based on any racist comments that may have been found on his electronic devices.

“I can assure you that it would have been contrary to what I consider to be justice for Jake Gardner to be indicted because the grand jurors considered him to be a racist. Being a racist is not against the law,” Franklin said.

The terroristic threat charge is related to comments made by Gardner to Scurlock during the incident. Gardner threatened the use of deadly force in the absence of a similar threat from Scurlock, Franklin said.

The jurors charged Gardner with attempted first-degree assault based on the “warning shot” Gardner fired while lying on the ground.

The use of firearm charge is attendant to all the other charges.

Franklin cautioned those who might cheer the grand jury’s decision, and specifically condemned the rioting and looting that has taken place in Omaha over the last few months.

“This is not a time for celebration or exuberance — these are simply charges. Jake Gardner is a man presumed innocent as I stand before you right now,” said Franklin.

If convicted, Gardner could face up to 95 years in prison. Gardner’s defense team is planning to launch a “vigorous self-defense case,” according to the World-Herald.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at

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  • roger May 7, 2021, 8:20 am

    Spineless politicians thugs and mobs. That should never be the way our judicial system works.

    Folks, the only way to fix this is to be the bigger mob, if these cowards are afraid of the mob, then so be it, we need to get off our politically lazy asses and be a mob, show then where the rea; power lies, in We the People.

  • Icee444 May 7, 2021, 7:24 am

    Exterminate BLM

  • Ej harbet September 26, 2020, 8:40 am

    Guess they won’t need the trial.
    He suicided.
    Another dead patriot and vet.
    So remember snowflakes
    Thank a making him kill himself. This nation is not worthy of my used toilet paper. The next time I hear the star spangled banner.
    I drop a deuce.

  • Hooterville Bob September 22, 2020, 2:12 pm

    The time has come

  • FirstStateMark September 21, 2020, 3:47 pm

    Once again the mob rules. Afraid of the violence when they know he’s innocent. I don’t know what this fucking country is turning into.

  • Bill Baker September 21, 2020, 12:37 pm

    Too bad for Mr Gardner. He defended himself and his father against an out of control group of rioters. He should have been NO Billed.
    The thugs in our society need to regain control of themselves. Destroying other peoples homes, businesses, property, etc. is not their right, the act should be a felony.
    We should be able to protect our property, rights and liberty against those who would take it. PERIOD

  • William September 21, 2020, 11:04 am

    Mr. Garner is dead because we have a society that is out of control. The man simply could not deal with the fact that he had taken another mans life even though the initial finding that it was self defense. The county attorney made the right call in not pressing charges against Mr. Garner. I do not fault the grand jury because they only get to see the evidence of what Mr. Garner may have done wrong and makes they vote accordingly.
    Ican lnly hope that the Garner family can conduct a civil action against the city and against the Scurlock family to end this type of vendictive procecution which is based solely of racist actions against law abiding white citizens. I am sure that if Mr. Scurlock had been shot by another black man, this whole thing would have not been a lead story on any news outlet in the country for more than 24 hours.

  • Wilko September 21, 2020, 10:41 am

    While still a cop a states attorney I worked with once told me, “If you worked a grand jury right, you could get an indictment agains a ham sandwich”.

  • me September 21, 2020, 10:01 am

    Gardner has committed suicide because of this ruling

  • Dougboffl September 21, 2020, 9:18 am

    I suspect Dereliction of Duty on the part of whichever Omaha government official(s) told local law enforcement to ‘allow rioters to steal and commit arson’ (stand down). Thus, Mr. Gardener (R.I.P) who likely paid his taxes, was denied the basic protections one expects from his local government services. Whoever made the decision to ‘restrain law enforcement during these trying times’ now has the blood of at least two victims on their hands. This is one of the few times I pray the wolves of civil litigation will make a case on behalf of the late Mr. Gardener’s estate and family. Determine those who ‘suspended law enforecment’ and sue individuals for truckloads of their personal money. I don’t believe the government insurance will provide defense funds for those officials who have stepped outside the boundaries of their duties. If theives and arsonists were arrested and prosecuted from day one, as should have happened, these riots would have died out quickly, both nationally and locally. There would have been no need for Mr. Gardener & Mr. Gardener Sr. to defend the business, and if an isolated incident occured, the Gardeners would have had reasonable reliance to call 911 for a local law enforecment response. The officials removed the expectation of government service and they suspended the rule of law for all parties involved.

  • Frank James Gaughan September 21, 2020, 8:51 am

    Jake Gardner was a decent and fair man. Please take a look at this two minute video showing him being interviewed on inauguration day in January 2017:
    You’ll see that he was fair, just and equitable; he was someone who truly understood that it takes all kinds…

    Whether it is widely recognized or not, we have now reached the tipping point in this crisis. Sanity and rule of law have been discarded in favor of deranged mob rule and it is abundantly clear that as citizens of the United States of America, we have been abandoned…

    The time has come to put an end to the madness. We The People had better rise up before it’s too late, which will be very shortly…

    R.I.P. Jake Gardner

  • Wally September 21, 2020, 6:50 am

    Guilty or not, It is being reported Jake Gardner committed suicide over the weekend. These senseless killings need to stop. Laying the blame on either side of this tragedy will not bring Mr. Scurlock or Mr. Gardner back.

  • USMC September 21, 2020, 5:44 am

    Jake and I did two tours together. He was targeted for years due to his support for the president and those involved used social media and the lying left wing media to destroy his life. He lost both of his businesses because of hatred over his political beliefs. This weekend he was faced with losing his freedom and took his own life. Watch out, they will come for the rest of us soon.

  • Dan Jenson September 19, 2020, 10:32 am

    It is becoming obvious that parts of our government want Us to become victims of violence. They are using their positions to enable terrorism against us by leftist foot soldiers.

    Eventually, when enough people rise up and fight back, there will be too many to prosecute.

    • JRB September 20, 2020, 5:53 pm

      Read about the millions that Soros is spending on buying DA elections to not enforce the law and attack gun owners.

    • Ej harbet September 26, 2020, 8:49 am

      When they come for you its time to go full Armageddon with every weapon you have.before they kill you fill a graveyard with them!

  • Donald Smith September 18, 2020, 7:03 pm

    I agree with the mistakes. However, Gardner did not ask them to show up at his property. Then they tried to over-power him, his firing warning shots, (a no no – you fire to hit), did scare off most. What can you do when you find you’re in a headlock that is cutting of your breathe? You shoot to kill and we are not worrying about the political ratifications. If you wish to conduct yourself as a terrorist (as a means of coercion), which the BLM movement has employed for the past couple of months, then be prepared for the consequences. The DA should have “stuck to his guns”.


  • Jman September 18, 2020, 3:27 pm

    I’m confused, it’s now illegal for police to use choke holds because they are considered life threatening. But, the teen choking this guy from behind isn’t life threatening? Seems to be some double standard. And since when do DA’s reverse decisions based on public sentiment? Who’s trying him the general public or the State’s office? To change this decision is basically saying yea we’ll give into mob rule mentality.

    • Mac September 18, 2020, 5:42 pm

      Yep, it’s just more of what we’ve been doing…essentially kowtowing to…for several months and is likely to continue. As to the double standard thing, they figure since police are supposed to be trained they have a higher bar or standard to maintain and answer to, so they can’t and others can…or similar nonsense.

  • David Chamberlain September 18, 2020, 2:24 pm

    So basically. If you defend yourself from would be killers in America you had better be prepared to next defend yourself from armed tyrants in blue costumes attempting to kidnap you?

  • Brian September 18, 2020, 1:59 pm

    This is the problem with grand juries, they only see what the prosecution wants them to see. The defense is not allowed to present any evidence, this is unconstitutional. Even if the person is found not guilty during a trial, they have to spend thousands of dollars to defend themselves, and often times lose everything they own. I think that if you are found not guilty after being charged by a grand jury, then the city or state should have to reimburse you for your legal fees and money lost due to lost work.

    • Fal Phil September 21, 2020, 8:46 am

      Ever been on a grand jury? It’s not like in a courtroom trial. The grand jurors can ask questions and make comments, at least in my state. I saw a prosecutor give up because the jurors kept asking pointed questions that took the case in the opposite direction that the prosecutor wanted to go.

  • syzito September 18, 2020, 1:53 pm

    It’s very clear with today’s society bending over to BLM any time a white person defend themselves from assault of any kind including attempted murder and the suspect is black, the white man will loose and be changed with a crime.

  • Scott Syverson September 18, 2020, 12:53 pm

    Yah, right…Please remember the famous notion “…a ham sandwich can be indicted by a Grand Jury.” In a Grand Jury only the prosecution presents a case. The accused nor his council are not allowed to attend. The prosecutor is not required to present all the evidence. A prosecutor will only present that evidence to the Grand Jury that supports his belief that a crime was committed. The D.A. stating that more evidence was available to the grand jury than when the dismissal occurred is either lying or doesn’t understand how Grand Juries work – you decide. The accused will be acquitted when all the evidence is presented at trial, the same evidence examined at the time of dismissal. The D.A. is just political grandstanding here.

  • Mark - IN. September 18, 2020, 12:04 pm

    What is that dead center on the deceased’s chest? A target? Looks like a target to me.

  • pissedpatriot September 18, 2020, 11:52 am

    It has reached the point where if a white person has to defend himself, he needs to kill every bastard that can lie about the incident. The courts have ruled that a choke hold is deadly if used on a black person, but apparently not on a white person. What a crock of crap the judicial system has turned into.

  • rt66paul September 18, 2020, 11:45 am

    The use of a choke hold is enough for the self defense claim. When you can’t breathe, it is time to do whatever so that you can breathe.

  • Kane September 18, 2020, 11:31 am

    Mobs attaching innocent people and when they try to defend themselves from the threat they face charges from politically biased authorities.

  • Stan d. Upnow September 18, 2020, 9:47 am

    ““This is not a time for celebration or exuberance — these are simply charges. Jake Gardner is a man presumed innocent as I stand before you right now,” said special prosecutor Franklin, who is Black.

    A nice statement for the record intended for public consumption. Privately, I can well imagine Franklin saying with relishment how he looks forward to a full conviction on all counts for the that white racist MF.
    I’m wondering if Franklin is another one of Soros’s plants in our legal system?

    • Richard K Serrels September 21, 2020, 5:10 am

      If he isn’t he sure does look like he is a Demarat at the least!!! How stupid can a Black person be to do work for the side that made the KKK and that your for Fathers fought for there Freedom from!!!

      • Ej harbet September 26, 2020, 8:59 am

        Once property always property at least for many.
        Ive seen many who have freed themselves and thats beautiful to behold.colion noir comes to mind so does Rick ector. A mind is a terrible thing to waste in slavery

  • Stan d. Upnow September 18, 2020, 9:13 am

    This is BS! I don’t care What kind of comments Gardner made. Some BLM/Antifa thugs attacked him first, with one getting him in a choke hold. Unless you are a martial artist and can deal with an attack like that, you use whatever means you have to save yourself, in this case, a firearm. Also, the warning shots that resulted in the 1st-degree assault charge likely saved Gardner’s life, as the other cowardly thugs ran away.
    We’ve seen what happens when that violent mob gets someone on the ground.

    This Scurlock character likely was one of those looting, setting fires, or maybe even attacking other innocents before this incident. Gardner not only acted in self-defense, but performed a public service by taking-out one BLM/Antifa Communist subversive. Good show.

  • Frank James Gaughan September 18, 2020, 9:00 am

    The message is abundantly clear: “Your rights as a law abiding civilian end where my so-called rights as a vicious criminal begin.” It’s OK to riot, smash windows, burn businesses, block public roadways and drag motorists from their vehicles, but you better not defend yourself Mr. Taxpayer because if you do, we’re coming after you!!! Kyle Rittenhouse, the McCloskeys, Steven Baca, the Officer in Lancaster PA last weekend, the homeowner in Milwaukee Wednesday night and now this case, all prove the same point: Punks and Thugs go free and their victims get charged with crimes.

    How much longer are We The People going to put up with this tyranny???

    • Stan d. Upnow September 18, 2020, 9:23 am


      “But Kleine received complaints from citizens, according to KMTV, and he agreed to appoint special prosecutor ”

      This comment, plus yours, indicates that the traitorous authorities will yield to mob rule; i.e., BLM/Antifa Communist subversives. This scum, and their Progressive-Socialist patrons in our govt., promise escalated violence if Biden(actually Harris) isn’t elected POTUS.
      Gear-up folks, the next civil war is around the corner.

  • Nick September 18, 2020, 8:44 am

    Commenting here, based SOLELY on the article makes the indictment seem unwarranted. It will play out in the courts. What I read elsewhere is that the bar owner made loud, threatening verbal threats when he came out of the bar. In Illinois, where I live (and In many states), you could readily be viewed as the instigator. Granted, someone other than the deceased instigated the chain of events by breaking the window. But, if i thought it was a bullet or whatever, I wouldn’t come outside to confront people with my gun. If ultimately killing someone over a broken window is ok…..well, God help us. Much of what’s in the news is not the entirety….including what I’ve seen. So, we will see. (I’m pretty sure bar owner will either get off or get a light sentence)

    • Frank James Gaughan September 18, 2020, 9:06 am

      Someone got killed because they jumped on the bar owner’s back and put him in a choke hold right after the deceased’s cohort smashed one of the bar’s windows during a riot. If that’s not self-defense, we are doomed!

    • Robert Messmer September 18, 2020, 3:42 pm

      You have to put the “broken window” in context. From the article Quote: “Franklin cautioned those who might cheer the grand jury’s decision, and specifically condemned the rioting and looting that has taken place in Omaha over the last few months.” Months of looting and riots–how many cases of arson during that time? So yes, exiting his business which had just been attacked he made threats or what could be called “excited utterances.” Pretty sure most of us would have also said something. Not come out to investigate?–so you say you would just sit inside and watch it go up in flames after the Molotov cocktails comes flying in?

  • Wilko September 18, 2020, 8:01 am

    During my time in law enforcement, I was told by a state’s attorney, “If you work a grand jury right, you can get an indictment against a ham sandwich”.

    • Stan d. Upnow September 18, 2020, 9:28 am

      You just confirmed what I’ve said for many years- It’s a LEGAL system, Not a Justice system.
      Anytime actual justice happens in a courtroom, it’s an artifact, not the goal.

    • Kane September 18, 2020, 11:22 am

      An AG or SA might be able to indict a ham sandwich but have they ever gotten a conviction?

      • Shawn September 18, 2020, 3:13 pm

        The process is the punishment. The case will cost Gardner everything he owns; he will not recover any of his attorney’s fees.

        Like the ham sandwich, he’ll be set free after 3- or 4-years having spent months in jail but only after his bank accounts are all drained.

      • Robert Messmer September 18, 2020, 3:44 pm

        Perhaps not on an actual sandwich but the DNA Exoneration Project has proven that quite a few innocent people get sentenced.

  • Buckwheat September 18, 2020, 7:50 am

    Funny how a chokehold is considered to be deadly conduct, if it’s a cop doing it. But in this case, it was perfectly harmless? Bringing manslaughter charges in this case is an obvious example of pandering to the liberal mob.

  • JGinNJ September 18, 2020, 7:13 am

    It is hard to understand what the Grand Jury did, based on the explanation in this article. We don’t have the full picture. But one thing I know, over decades, is that shop owners with weapons have kept their businesses safe – but in the cases I am aware of it was the mere presence of armed owners that caused rioters to select other targets. Who ever thought through the complications if someone actually shot a rioter! For it to be justifiable, does the shot person have to be carrying a TV? If a rioter is crazy enough to attack you, but sensible enough to not shout “I am going to kill you”, does that mean you should not react with deadly force, as there was no threat?

  • Theron Ballard September 18, 2020, 5:32 am

    If given enough time they can find charges to levy against anyone. This was face saving to avoid more BLM rioting in Omaha. Gardener will get his expensive day in court.
    To me it simply says dont own a downtown Omaha business it wont be protected.

  • perlcat September 18, 2020, 4:13 am

    Mistake #1 — talking about it beforehand. Mistake #2 — talking about it afterwards. Mistake #3 — firing a warning shot. Mistake #4 — not being aware of how self defense laws work. Owning a gun does not make you ten feet tall and bulletproof. Damn shame that he will do time when the political prosecution inevitably convicts him.

  • SuperG September 17, 2020, 10:25 am

    So the grand jury found it appropriate for Scurlock to try and murder Gardner with a chokehold, while on his back, is what I’m reading. That is insane. Gardner wasn’t out cruising the streets looking for trouble, but was inside minding his own business when Scurlock and his pal attacked the bar.

    • Yep yep September 18, 2020, 6:37 am

      Exactly!!!!! You look for trouble you will find it. People need to act right or get put down.

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