Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine has confirmed that he will not be pressing charges against the man who shot James Scurlock.
On May 30th, 2020, a 22-year-old young man named James Scurlock was shot and killed during the George Floyd protests. His death occurred during a fight with Jacob Gardener, which took place outside Gardener's bar in Nebraska. At the time, Scurlock was said to have placed Gardener in a chokehold, which ultimately ended with Gardener firing his gun. One of the shots hit Scurlock near the neck; though he was taken to the hospital, he died later that night.
Gardener was taken into police custody that night. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine has since confirmed that the bar owner would not be charged, as he was acting in self-defense. Kleine cited video evidence of the incident, footage that depicts Kleine in a conversation with Scurlock and several others. A report from the NBC News claims that a fight broke out, and Gardener fired off a couple of warning shots. Scurlock managed to get him in the chokehold -- Gardener can allegedly be heard saying "get off me" repeatedly -- and that's where the fatal shot occurred.
Kleine described the death as "senseless," but seemed to agree with law enforcement officials that it was "justified." The decision not to press charges did not sit well with State Senator Justin Wayne, who was speaking on behalf of the Scurlock family. “In this community, we prosecute black and brown individuals a lot more for things like we just watched," he mentioned, words that ring all the more poignant following George Floyd's murder.
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts defended Kleine's decision. "Don Kleine is a well-respected prosecutor in the law community both in Omaha and in the state," he stated. "If Don Kleine doesn't believe he can bring charges at this time, I believe him. Keep an open mind. We have to heal, and move on together." Still, there are many who feel that the wrong choice was made and that James Scurlock deserves further justice. During a press conference, Scurlock's family implored as such. "My family wants closure and peace,” stated an unidentified family member. “What we want is for this to go to court and get a full prosecution.”