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Jake Gardner family calls on Scurlock special prosecutor to release grand jury transcript

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 4:10 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - In a written statement Thursday, the family of the man indicted by a grand jury in the shooting death of James Scurlock during a protest this summer called on the special prosecutor to release transcripts.

On Tuesday, Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin issued a statement after filing Gardner’s death certificate along with a petition for dismissal. Gardner committed suicide in Oregon last month on the day before he was expected to turn himself in.

Jake Gardner, accused of manslaughter for the shooting death of James Scurlock this summer, has...
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.

The family’s statement concludes with: “Release the grand jury transcript, justice for Jake, Semper Fi.”

The statement includes a timeline of the incident before giving a point-by-point response to eight claims made by Franklin in his personal assessment of the case — and promises to hold him accountable for his “unlawful and immoral conduct.”

Read the family’s full statement

On May 30th 2020, Jacob Gardner, a bar owner weathering the turmoil of coronavirus, and a decorated Marine Corps combat veteran went to his business that was in the path of violent riots. His intention was to sound the alarm in case his business was set on fire. He was armed with a handgun, and a shotgun containing non lethal ammunition as was his right according to Nebraska State law 28-1202 which allows a business owner to carry weapons in defense of his person, property or family. At 22:28:00 on the high resolution video footage from the Hive Lounge security camera’s, James Scurlock and others begin to break out the windows of the business while Jacob Gardner took cover behind a concrete wall within the business. At 22:42:00 Scurlock and others return and break more windows. From inside, Jake pulls the fire alarm, and calls 911 to report the sounds of gunshots, and his windows being broken at 22:42:15. At 22:43:30 an unknown male attempts to gain entry to the business through a broken window. Instead of shooting the intruder, Jake pumps a non lethal round into his shotgun. The sound of the shotgun being pumped startles the intruder, and he retreats back out of the broken window hastily.

James Scurlock was killed by Gardner during his third attack on the Hive business in 30 minutes. During Scurlock’s first two attacks on the business, he simply broke windows. However, during his third attack on the business Jake Gardner was on the street with his father photographing the damage caused during the first two attacks after the street had cleared at 22:49:00. Jakes elderly and infirmed father, weighed just 140 lbs due to the second round of chemotherapy he was undergoing. More rioters began breaking windows in the building next to the Hive lounge. The elder Gardner, a 69 year old Vietnam Veteran with a clean criminal record, pushed one of the assailants in the group breaking windows at 22:55:00. A member of James Scurlock’s entourage, Tucker Randall, violently tackled the senior Gardner to the ground. Jake Gardner ran up the street and placed himself between the advancing violent mob, and his beaten father. He is heard on audio and video recordings saying, “If you didn’t push the old man just move on, we don’t want any problems.” Jake walks backward with his hands up in a surrender posture for approximately 20′ before showing his lawfully concealed handgun, while keeping the muzzle pointed at the ground, to the advancing mob of rioters that includes James Scurlock. Jake Gardner showed the weapon in hopes of dissuading the advancing group of rioters from any further attacks on his person, family, or business. He reholsters his weapon, and continues backwards for an additional 30′ at which time he is attacked from behind by Alana Melendez, and Tucker Randall (James Scurlock’s accomplice in criminal assault and vandalism). As Jake Gardner is being punched and kicked on the ground he manages to pull his pistol and fires ONE warning shot to scatter his assailants. The first two attackers withdraw at 22:58:01, and Gardner rolls over onto all fours with his back to the mob in an attempt to get back up after the beating he suffered. At 22:58:04 James Scurlock, a violent multiple felon, (previously convicted of armed home invasion and assault on a pregnant woman) Jumps on the already down Jake Gardner and performs an MMA move called a rear naked choke with a leg hook. It is a move deigned to kill Jake Gardner. As Jake slips closer and closer to unconsciousness he is witnessed in the 780p surveillance, and heard in audio recordings from other videos pleading for Scurlock to stop his attack. “Get off me, get off me, please get off me.” At 22:58:22 Jake Gardner saves his own life by reaching over his shoulder and firing his second shot over his shoulder killing the assailant James Scurlock.

After a review of all pertinent evidence by every Omaha PD detective and the Omaha DA, it was decided unanimously that Gardner acted in self defense. Sadly, after 36 days of protests in front of DA Don Kleine’s home, common sense was abandoned in favor of mob rule justice, and the case was turned over to “Special Prosecutor” Fredrick Franklin who had no interest in justice or truth, but rather only to score a blow against a known innocent man simply because of Jake’s race and political affiliation.

During and after the grand jury, Fredrick Franklin has falsified evidence, hid evidence favorable to Mr. Gardner, and shamelessly slandered Jake Gardner as a white supremacist. These claims by Fredrick Franklin are not only meritless, but easily found false by the review of the extensive and high quality video evidence. His claims reveal his agenda. Fredrick Franklin’s conduct has dishonored the justice system, and makes a mockery of what it means to be an officer of the court. Here are some of the claims Fredrick Franklin made that can be proved false.

Fredrick Franklin claims:

Claim 1. No rioters attempt to enter the business.

False: At 22:43:00 the surveillance camera captures an unknown male making entrance to the business through a broken window. Rather than shooting the man with the rubber bullets in his shotgun, Gardner simply pumps the weapon. The sound promptly scares the intruder back out of the broken window. Franklin chooses to lie and say this never occurred although video evidence proves it.

Claim 2. Gardner acted inappropriately by staying within his business behind a concrete wall while the business was being vandalized, instead of, “standing in front of his business with or without firearms.”

False: Jake took shelter inside and pulled the fire alarm and called 911. He made a wise choice to not confront the mob throwing projectiles. He did not go to the street, which the Nebraska State liquor commission makes him responsible for up to the curb, until after the street was clear to survey the damage. When an intruder attempted entry, he pumped the shotgun rather than shoot anyone.

Claim 3. No part of the confrontation between James Scurlock and Jake Gardner involved Gardner engaged in the protection of his business.

False: After all the windows had been broken, and a looter was repelled without use of force, Jakes father was attacked. His father was there in an official capacity that night to help document the damage after the rioters moved on. Unfortunately the rioters came back to destroy more property and attack anyone who intervened. To characterize David Gardner as “assaulting,” someone for simply lightly pushing a rioter and telling them to leave the area after they break more windows is not an assault as Franklin has the lack of moral character to claim. It also does not warrant ANYONE attacking a 69 year old cancer patient. It bears mentioning that Tucker Randall, Scurlock’s friend that attacked Dave Gardner, was also one of the two initial attackers of Jake Gardner, and has not been charged with any crime.

Claim 4. Jake Gardner made “Terroristic threats.”

False: Jake Gardner was legally armed. He told the rioters to move on, and said he didn’t want any problems. He did so even after his father was attacked. As the violent mob closed in on him at 22:56:00 he shows them he is legally armed to dissuade them of any further attacks.

Claim 5. Jake fired two warning shots.

False: Jake fired one warning shot at 22:58:00, Franklin alleges that two warning shots are fired, but the video disproves that. Franklin used the false second warning shot as a basis for his allegation of attempted first degree assault. On audio, you can hear two pops, but only see one muzzle flash. The second pop was that of a flashbang grenade discharged by police a block away. Additionally, crime scene detectives only recovered two shell casings from the scene. One from the single warning shot, and one from the shot that stopped the attack of James Scurlock.

Claim 6. Jake Gardner was not in fear for his life.

False: When Scurlock tackled Jake Gardner from behind and attempts to choke him to death at 22:58:02. His intention was to end Jake Gardner’s life. Jake was acting lawfully in protection of his person, property, and family as allowed by Nebraska law 28-1202. It is disingenuous for Franklin to cast Scurlock into the role of someone trying to stop a shooter, when it was Scurlock’s compatriot Tucker Randall who spearheaded the assault of both David, and Jake Gardner. Jake Gardner walking backwards pleading with the attackers to move along for over 50′ demonstrates the fact that he was trying to deescalate the situation. Scurlock was just continuing on with the felonious assault that his group was engaged in. In America, if someone jumps on your back and tries to choke you to death, you should be able to defend yourself and save your own life. Jake Gardner did just that. Furthermore, it bears mentioning that in 2003 Jake Gardner was assaulted and knocked out by a concrete curb much like in the attack by Scurlock. The difference is after Jake was knocked unconscious in 2003, his assailants stomped 12 of his teeth out against the concrete curb. As Jake Gardner was being choked to death by Scurlock next to yet another concrete curb, he was keenly aware of the danger he was in. Jake acted as any reasonable person who was defending himself against a violent attacker would in defense of his life. Unlike Fredrick Franklin, or James Scurlock, Jake Gardner was a brilliant and reasonable man and entrepreneur. His bar paid more tax revenue than any bar in Omaha. This was achieved by giving people a safe venue to dance. Any nightclub or bar owner knows that violence is horrible for business. Jake’s business was his life and livelihood. He never would have destroyed that reputation by committing an act of violence except an an absolute last resort. Jake Gardner acted appropriately to defend his own life, stopping the crime spree that James Scurlock had embarked on that night, and according to Scurlock’s criminal record, the days, weeks, and years prior.

Claim 7. Jake Gardner was heard on audio pleading for Scurlock to “Get off him,” repeatedly before the fatal shot was fired, so he couldn’t be getting choked.

False: This claim by Franklin is laughable, and given the supposed reason for the rioting that night, is quite tone deaf. In the video of George Floyd’s death, he is also heard pleading for his life, as he is choked to death. We can believe this statement to be Franklin’s true belief after he publicly begins defending the officers involved with the killing of George Floyd. Instead I contend that being choked to death is something that can happen to you regardless of the color of the skin on your neck as it is being constricted, obviously Franklin has a different opinion for reasons only he knows.

Claim 8. Gardner’s phone had text’s in it referencing a, “clear field of fire.” In Franklin’s second news conference Franklin makes this claim twice.

False: Fortunately, this is easy to disprove. The text sent to Jake actually said, feel the fire, not field of fire. This was the evidence Franklin, during his second press conference shortly after Jake Gardners death, references as being the most damning for Jake Gardner with regard to establishing his mind state that night. It is a blatant lie, and is a clear example of Franklin falsifying evidence to suit his narrative. In the same news conference, Franklin also uses the term, “Light ‘em up,” in a way that infers this was something Jake Gardner had said. With that statement Franklin moves on from simply falsifying evidence, to inventing it out of thin air. In Franklin’s Oct 26 written statement he makes no reference whatsoever to either of those statements because it was already reported through various news sources that those statements were verifiably false. Not surprisingly, when investigators found text messages from the evening of the shooting in James Scurlock’s phone that showed James was planning a robbery, while bragging about maliciously and knowingly transmitting various STD’s to unsuspecting sex partners, Franklin told the investigators they were irrelevant. Again Franklin has demonstrated his ability to manufacture, manipulate, and suppress evidence based on how it coincides with his narrative that the victim Jake Gardner acted out of malice instead of self preservation.

Fredrick Franklin had an agenda, his true motives may never be known. Racism, Political ambitions, taking down a Trump supporter? Only Franklin knows the true motive for the hatred in his heart that enabled him to falsify and suppress evidence in this matter. His investigators engaged in witness intimidation, and it seems the bright lights of the news conference cameras were incredibly alluring to the egomaniacal side of Fred Franklin’s personality, which obviously drowned out any sense of justice or accountability that may have drifted around and slid off of his persona throughout his life. Unfortunately for Franklin, the best disinfectant is light. We will shed light on Franklin’s misdeeds that cost the life of the innocent decorated war veteran Jake Gardner. In order to do this we will be seeking to release the grand jury transcripts. If Fredrick Franklin is willing to tell blatant and provable lies in front of news camera’s, and in publicly released statements, what on earth did he say when he thought no one was watching or listening? We will find out, we will not be surprised, and Mr. Franklin, we will hold you accountable for your unlawful and immoral conduct.

Jake Gardner shared a quote with his family prior to his death. The quote was from the falsely imprisoned boxer Ruben, “The Hurricane,” Carter. It reads, "To live in a world where truth matters and justice, however late, really happens, that world would be heaven enough for us all.'’

Release the grand jury transcript, justice for Jake, Semper Fi.

The Gardner Family

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

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