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Special prosecutor releases details in Jacob Gardner case

Posted at 12:02 PM, Sep 23, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin addressed information passed on from the Omaha Police Department in regards to the Jacob Gardner case.

Gardner was indicted by a grand jury on charges of manslaughter, use of a firearm, attempted first-degree assault and terroristic threats in relation to the May death of James Scurlock.

A judge signed an affidavit authorizing the issue of an arrest warrant but one was never actually issued because Gardner agreed to turn himself in.

But Gardner took his own life over the weekend. His body was found in Oregon.

Franklin said leading up to the shooting on May 30, there were people inside the Hive Bar, including Gardner. Franklin said Gardner had multiple firearms, a shot gun and three hand guns. While he was in there he was texting people, saying he was worried about protests moving from 72nd and Dodge to the Old Market.

Franklin said Garner turned the lights off to the Hive Bar, a business that he owned. Franklin said Gardner texted about anticipated looters and how they could be "dealt with." The day before the shooting, President Trump tweeted, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Franklin said that was relevant.

The Hive was damaged by protestors that night. But Franklin says no one went inside the property, including Scurlock. Franklin says Gardner emerged from inside the Hive to the outside with "some anger about what had happened." According to Franklin, Gardner was opposed to the protests and why they were taking place.

RELATED: Don Kleine and Gardner's lawyers comment on prosecutor's briefing

Cell phone evidence mentioned last week indicated there was an intention on Gardner's behalf to use a firearm to either kill or cause serious bodily injury to looters.

Franklin said Gardner came out less than 10 minutes later. He said Gardner’s father then confronted a person videotaping someone trying to damage an adjacent business. Franklin said when you slow down video you can see the incident didn't start with Gardner’s dad David being pushed. It was in response to something else.

Franklin said you also can see that Scurlock had nothing to do with Gardner being tackled and it wasn't anyone associated with Scurlock.

Franklin also addressed self-defense laws, saying it was clear that Gardner provoked the initial incident with Scurlock. That initial confrontation wasn't captured on video from the Hive Bar. Video of the initial confrontation was provided to Omaha police by a third party.

Franklin considered charging Gardner's father, but did not. Franklin said once he receives Gardner's death certificate, he will remove the indictment.

Franklin said he was saddened about Gardner taking his own life. He said that deprived the community of having evidence play out at trial.

Franklin called the entire incident a ridiculous tragedy, but said it's what hate produces.

Franklin was originally scheduled to speak Tuesday. Franklin said he postponed the statement in the hopes that he would have a report from police in Hillsboro, Oregon, relating to Gardner's suicide. Franklin has still not received that report but decided to speak without it.

On Wednesday afternoon, Gardner's attorneys Stu Dornan and Tom Monaghan issued the following statement:

"The statements made by Special Prosecutor Franklin did not change our belief in our client’s innocence or the belief that he never should have been charged – and Don Kleine shares that view. There was no new credible or relevant evidence provided by Mr. Franklin today that Mr. Gardner’s state of mind was to harm anyone. The hope for the healing of our community is most paramount as we move forward. Our statements from Sunday stand."

The Scurlock family and their attorney, Justin Wayne, plan to speak Thursday afternoon.

3 News Now Reporter Ruta Ulcinaite provided live updates on Twitter: