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Family of Jake Gardner brings suit against county attorney, grand jury prosecutor & others

Jake Gardner
Posted at 2:16 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 15:16:50-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The parents of an Omaha business owner who died by suicide after being indicted by a grand jury for his connection to the death of an Omaha protester, have filed a lawsuit against County Attorney Don Kleine, Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin and two retired police detectives.


In the suit, the family and their legal counsel allege conspiracy on the part of the defendants which they believe contributed to Jake Gardner's death and denied him due process.

The complaint reads:

Defendant Franklin conspired with Defendant Kleine and Does 1 and 2, retired Omaha detectives on Defendant Franklin’s team, to make false and misleading statements to the media which violated Jacob Gardner’s Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to a fair trial and due process of law by implying Mr. Gardner’s 4:21-cv-03145 4:21-cv-03145-JMG-CRZ Doc # 1 Filed: 07/26/21 Page 1 of 22 - Page ID # 1 2 guilt, implying he was a racist, and inflaming the community regarding the case. These recklessly biased and false statements by Defendant Franklin also caused Jacob Gardner to lose all faith in the justice system and end his own life for fear of an unfair trial. Defendant Kleine and Does 1 and 2 had knowledge that these wrongful statements were going to be made to the media, and negligently or knowingly failed to prevent them. The Douglas County Attorney’s Office and Douglas County, Nebraska, created a wrongful, unconstitutional policy in allowing Defendant Franklin to make the wrongful statements which deprived Mr. Gardner of his rights and caused his death.

Kleine originally announced that there would be no charges against Gardner, citing self-defense for the May 30, 2020 shooting that left 22-year-old James Scurlock dead during a George Floyd protest in the Old Market. Later, he announced there would be a grand jury investigation.

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In September, the grand jury chose to indict Jacob Gardner following evidence presented by Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin.

Following the indictment, Gardner died by suicide in Hillsboro, Oregon and the indictment was dropped.

Garner's family is asking for a trial by jury and is seeking:

  • An award of compensatory, special and punitive damages in appropriate amounts to be established at trial;
  • An award of costs associated with this action
  • And such other and further relief as the court may deem just and proper.

Read the full court document below:

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