Special prosecutor issues statement after filing Jake Gardner’s death certificate with dismissal

Statement offers new details on events leading up to Scurlock shooting death; responds to accusations Franklin ’had an agenda’
Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin issued a statement Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, after filing...
Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin issued a statement Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, after filing a dismissal along with the death certificate for Jake Gardner, the man a grand jury indicted in the shooting death of James Scurlock during a May protest in downtown Omaha. / File photo(WOWT)
Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 11:26 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2020 at 12:59 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin on Tuesday filed a copy of the death certificate of Jake Gardner, the man indicted by a grand jury in the shooting death of James Scurlock during George Floyd protests downtown in May, along with a request for an official dismissal of the indictment.

The death certificate serves as an official record of Gardner’s suicide, stating his cause of death as a gunshot wound to the head by a handgun on Sept. 20 in a parking lot in Hillsboro, Ore.

According to the document, no autopsy was performed, and Gardner, 38, was cremated.

Jake Gardner, accused of manslaughter for the shooting death of James Scurlock this summer,...
Jake Gardner, accused of manslaughter for the shooting death of James Scurlock this summer, has died by suicide according to Gardner’s attorney, Stu Dornan.

Following the filing, the special prosecutor released a statement Tuesday, noting it was not a grand jury report.

“Given the community interest in this case and since there will not be a trial, I have decided to provide the statement below as my report of the of the evidence reviewed by my team and I,” the statement says.

In the nine-page document, Franklin again walks through details of the incident as he did following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision; but he also includes details on a 911 call from Gardner and about events leading up to the shooting, before responding to criticism.

Some of the new details about events leading up to Scurlock’s death include a 911 call that Gardner placed “though officers with the Omaha Police Department were literally seconds away and, on every corner surrounding his business," Franklin states. In that call, Gardner claimed his business was being shot at and “that [he] just wanted to call in and make sure that (he) was on the record for this,” Franklin said in his statement before posing a question in parenthesis:

“It begs the question, was Gardner alerting the 911 operator that he wanted the ‘record’ to document an anticipated need to return gunfire in self-defense, since he reported that his business was being shot at?”

In his statement, Franklin says that while Gardner could have argued he was protecting his property when the shooting occurred, “he didn’t protect it. He did not stand in front of the businesses, with or without his firearms, as a deterrent to looters or vandals. There is no evidence that he did anything to stop the vandalism that was occurring while he was inside his business with the lights off.”

The evidence, according to Franklin, shows that Gardner “allowed the vandalism to occur while awaiting the entry of looters, so as to use his firearms on them" and that Gardner “well knew that ...James Scurlock was not the individual responsible for his father being pushed.”

Frederick also defended the count of “terroristic threats,” stating that “self-defense” did not apply in the prosecution of that count. “The evidence suggests that Gardner was threatening the use of deadly force and was doing so prior to having been jumped,” he says in the statement.

Franklin also defended the integrity of the grand jury.

This is a developing story. Stay with 6 News for updates.

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