OMAHA, HEAVEN (AP) – A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against prosecutors filed by the family of a white bar owner from Nebraska who killed himself after he was charged with the deadly shooting of a black man during the 2020 protests. against racial injustice.
U.S. District Judge John Gerard said in a ruling Tuesday that there are no legal grounds to conclude that Douglas County Attorney’s Office is responsible for the death of 38-year-old Jake Gardner.
Gardner’s parents accused the Douglas County Attorney’s Office, its Attorney General, and the Attorney General of violating Gardner’s constitutional rights. The lawsuit also accused Special Prosecutor Fred Franklin that during a news conference he hinted that Gardner was a racist, forcing Gardner to commit suicide on September 20, 2020 in Oregon.
Gardner was charged with manslaughter and other crimes following the shooting of 22-year-old James Scarlock near Gardner’s bar in downtown Omaha during protests following the May 30, 2020 murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.
County Attorney Douglas Don Klein initially declined to charge Gardner, saying he acted in self-defense after Skurlock’s attack. Klein later asked the grand jury to investigate after critics said he had not thoroughly investigated the shooting. Skurlock’s defenders said he was trying to stop Gardner from hurting anyone after Gardner threw a gun at protesters with whom he was involved in the fight.
Franklin later said additional evidence from Gardner’s phone and his Facebook Messenger account, as well as videos from his bar, shed new light on his intentions. After Gardner’s death, Franklin revealed that Gardner was armed and was waiting for an ambush on people who could break into the business, including him.
“Gardner’s parents were undoubtedly in trouble, and of course they have every right to do so,” Gerard wrote in his decision. “The events that led to this case were tragic for the Gardner family and for Skurlock. But not all tragic circumstances ultimately lead to legal liability. This is one of such cases. “
Gardner’s lawyer, John Pierce of California, did not immediately respond Wednesday to asking for comment. Pierce presented several high-profile cases, including at one time Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted of murder and other charges of fatal shooting at two men during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Douglas County Attorney’s Office also did not immediately return the message asking for comment.