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James Scurlock grand jury to convene next week

Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 4:48 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - 6 News has learned a grand jury will convene next week to examine the shooting death of 22-year-old James Scurlock.

Scurlock, who is black, was shot and killed May 30 by a white bar owner during protests in Omaha’s Old Market over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

With no Omaha City Council or Douglas County Board meetings planned for Tuesday due to the Labor Day holiday, 40 members of the public will then gather in those legislative chambers — a room big enough to socially distance — as the grand jury pool of potential jurors. A computer randomly picks the men and women jury pool based on driver’s licenses and voter registration.

The potential jurors will fill out a questionnaire, then be asked questions individually until 19 people are selected: 16 jurors and three alternates.

Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin, a long-time federal prosecutor, will present evidence to the grand jurors, but it won’t be in a vacuum. He’ll also explain what the law says, so jurors will have context when deciding whether to bring charges against Jake Gardner.

In June, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine declined to file charges saying the evidence pointed at self-defense.

Gardner, who was the owner The Hive at 12th & Harney, is seen on video showing the gun he was carrying in his waistband. Investigators said he said he was there to protect his business. The video also shows Gardner’s father shoving a couple of the protesters, before one of the protesters knocks the father to the ground.

According to Kleine, Gardner told investigators he thought his life was in danger when James Scurlock jumped on his back and there was a struggle. Two others had jumped on Gardner’s back a few seconds earlier and Gardner had fired what Kleine described as “warning shots.”

Scurlock’s father argued that it was a rush to judgment and urged the County Attorney to let a grand jury examine the evidence.

In mid-June, the special prosecutor set up a public tip line and email address looking for any other video and/or audio that may have captured the actions of James Scurlock or Jake Gardner.

Since grand jury proceedings are secret, it’s unclear how long it will take for the special prosecutor to present the evidence to the jurors.

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