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Grand jury charges Omaha bar owner in protester’s death

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- A grand jury has decided that a business owner who fatally shot a protester during civil unrest in downtown Omaha this spring should be charged with manslaughter and other charges.

Prosecutors initially declined to charge Jake Gardner in the May 30 shooting of 22-year-old James Scurlock, saying they believed he acted in self-defense.

But after push back from the public, a grand jury was called as a special prosecutor looked into the case.

The investigation continued and about 60 people were interviewed by the Omaha Police Department.

Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin said most of the new evidence came from Gardner through his phone and Facebook messages.

"There was evidence that was gathered and presented to the grand jury about activity that Jake Gardner was engaged in prior to even coming to contact with James Scurlock," said Franklin.

The grand jury indicted Gardner four charges: manslaughter, the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, attempted first-degree assault and terroristic threats, which Franklin said stem from the verbal exchange between Gardner and Scurlock that night.

Franklin also said the jury spent more time deliberating than what he expected and that the decision was only confirmed Tuesday. He also added the charges do not mean Gardner is guilty.

There will not be a preliminary hearing but the case will go to trial.

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Associated Press

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