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Special Prosecutor Fredrick Franklin walks through State v. Jacob Gardner decision

Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 10:56 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2020 at 10:41 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Special Prosecutor Fredrick D. Franklin will be making a statement regarding the charges against Jacob Gardner in connection to the shooting death of James Scurlock.

An arrest warrant was issued for Jake Gardner on Friday. He was accused of manslaughter, use of a weapon to commit a felony, attempted first-degree assault, and terroristic threats.

Gardner was in Oregon at the time of the indictment.

Gardner was found dead Sunday outside a medical clinic in Hillsboro, Oregon, according to the Hillsboro Police Department. His attorney, Stu Dornan, confirmed the death was a suicide.

Franklin, in a press conference Wednesday, walked through the grand jury’s decision and the evidence they were presented as much as possible. Specific evidence is unable to be shared.

According to Franklin, evidence was not only found from witness testimony but also from what was found on Jake Gardner’s cellphone. Franklin referenced text and Facebook messages that depicted Gardner not agreeing with the cause of the protests the night of James Scurlock’s death, and what he would do upon the event that looters would come to his business.

Franklin then described the timeline of events from that night according to the evidence the grand jury was presented.

According to Franklin, Gardner had turned off the lights to his business and remained inside with several others, and guns as protests and looting were being conducted surrounding his business. Gardner’s business was then also damaged but no one attempted to enter his business. Gardner then emerged from his business and within 10 minutes an altercation ensued.

“To the extent that Jake Gardner had set up an ambush inside his business, waiting on looters to come in so he could light them up. And that particular objective was thwarted by individuals not coming in. It’s understandable that Jake Gardner would be frustrated or angry sitting back and watching his building he rented be destroyed like it was being destroyed," said Franklin.

Franklin then quoted the Nebraska statute on self-defense.

The Special Prosecutor also pointed out that the day before the protests in the Old Market, President Trump has tweeted “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” and said Jake Gardner has a special affinity for the President.

Following the description of the timeline, Franklin explained why his news conference was postponed from yesterday to today. They were waiting on the Hillsboro Police Department to release the details regarding Jake Gardner’s suicide in Oregon.

According to Franklin, nothing has been provided yet. He is waiting to receive Gardner’s death certificate.

Jake Gardner’s attorneys, Stu Dornan and Tom Monaghan released a statement that reads, “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.”

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