Bar Owner Charged In Death Of Black Protester Dies By Suicide

Former Omaha, Nebraska bar owner Jacob Gardner was found dead outside of a medical clinic in Hillsboro, Oregon this weekend. His attorney, Stu Dornan, has confirmed that Gardner died by suicide. His death comes less than a week after he was charged with manslaughter in the killing of 22-year-old protester James Scurlock.

“Unfortunately there are two men who have died in a terrible tragedy,” Dornan said.

“It’s a terrible tragedy for the Omaha community, it’s a terrible tragedy for James Scurlock and his family. It’s a terrible tragedy for the Gardner family.”

On May 30, Scurlock and a group of friends passed by Gardner's bar at approximately 11 p.m. following a protest in the area. Gardner was reportedly concerned about a broken window in his bar, but those with Scurlock said he never broke any window. During their confrontation, surveillance footage appears to show Gardner firing multiple shots at Scurlock, which resulted in his death. Witnesses at the scene also alleged that Gardner spouted racial slurs at the group.

Initially, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine decided not to charge Gardner with Scurlock's death. However, intense public outcry resulted in a grand jury being called in to examine the case. Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin has said that the grand jury had the opportunity to examine evidence that Kleine did not. This evidence includes Gardner's text messages, social media profiles and accounts of his interactions with bystanders prior to meeting Scurlock. Franklin did not provide specific details regarding the new evidence, but did say it undermines the argument of self defense.

While the grand jury was being called in to examine the case, Gardner travelled to California. According to his attorneys, he was caught off guard by the charges.

“The grand jury indictment was a shock to him, and it was a shock to us,” Dornan said.

“The community of Omaha had convicted Mr. Gardner on social media,” Attorney Tom Monaghan added Sunday.

Gardner was scheduled to turn himself in on Sunday. There is no word yet regarding his funeral arrangements.

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