Omaha bar owner who shot, killed protester won't face charges, county attorney says

A white Omaha bar owner who shot and killed a black protester over the weekend will not be facing charges after prosecutors determined he had acted in self-defense, a county attorney said Monday.

Douglas County Attorney Donald Kleine, speaking during a press conference, said the actions of the bar owner, Jake Gardner, “were justified.”

The Hive bar in Omaha, Nebraska. 

The Hive bar in Omaha, Nebraska. 

Kleine acknowledged that the decision would not be popular, given the calls for Gardner to be charged with murder in the death of 22-year-old James Scurlock.

The decision was announced after a weekend of nationwide protests and riots sparked by the death of George Floyd and other killings of black people by police and U.S. citizens. Floyd, who was black, died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.

Anticipating further unrest in the decision not to charge Gardner, Omaha officials urged businesses to close early.

During the press conference, Kleine played video clips of the Saturday night confrontation between Gardner and several other people that lead to Scurlock’s death, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

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In the video, 38-year-old Gardner can be seen standing outside one of his establishments in a heated exchange with a group of people. At one point he backs away from the group before ending up on his back. A skirmish ensued between Gardner and Scurlock before Gardner fatally shot Scurlock.

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Gardner was taken into custody at Omaha police headquarters Saturday night and released Sunday night, the Omaha World-Herald reported.