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White bar owner charged with killing Black man during Omaha protests committed suicide, lawyer said.

PMG FILE POKTO - A Hillsboro Police Department vehicles. A bar owner from Omaha, Nebraska, who was recently indicted in the shooting death of a Black man related to protests in the city killed himself in Hillsboro Sunday, Sept. 20, according to the man's attorney.

Local authorities said the body of 38-year-old Jacob Gardner was found outside the Hillsboro Medical Center on Southeast 9th Avenue around noon Sunday. The cause of his death is under investigation. Police said they "are not seeking any suspects and there is no danger to the community."

Later on Sunday, Gardner's attorney confirmed that he died by suicide.

On Tuesday, a grand jury in Douglas County, Nebraska, charged Gardner, who is white, with manslaughter in the death of James Scurlock, the Black man authorities say Gardner shot May 30 during a protest against police brutality and racial injustice outside Gardner's bar in Omaha. Gardner was also charged with attempted assault, making terroristic threats and using a gun to commit a felony.

Gardner had said the shooting was done in self-defense.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine initially decided not to charge Gardner, saying he acted in self-defense. After intense criticism, a grand jury was called to examine the case, resulting in charges being filed against Gardner.

"The family of Jake Gardner asked Tom Monaghan and myself to share the news of his death today at his own hand," said attorney Stu Dornan.

Dornan said Gardner, who had gone to California after the shooting, was "really shook up" after the grand jury's indictment. It is unclear what connections Gardner had to Oregon. He was scheduled to go back to Omaha Sunday night to face the charges returned by the grand jury.

"I had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Gardner before his return. And he was really shook up because the grand jury indictment was a shock to him. It was a shock to us," said Dornan.

Attorney Tom Monaghan, who also spoke during Sunday's news conference, said "the community of Omaha had convicted Mr. Gardner on social media."

Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin has said the grand jury reviewed additional evidence that Kleine didn't have, including texts from Gardner's phone, messages on his Facebook profile and his interactions with bystanders before coming into contact with Spurlock.

Franklin declined to provide specifics of what the new evidence shows except to say it undermines the notion of self-defense.

KOIN News 6 is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story can be found here.


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