Family of Gunned-Down Protester Reacts to Suspect's Suicide

'Are we supposed to feel bad?' James Scurlock's sister asks after bar owner killed himself
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2020 8:53 AM CDT
After Shooting Death of Black Protester, a 'Lack of Closure'
A memorial for James Scurlock remains on Sept. 16, 2020, near where he was shot and killed on May 30, in Omaha, Neb.   (AP)

Rather than face a manslaughter charge in the shooting death of Black protester James Scurlock, white Nebraska bar owner Jake Gardner apparently took his own life over the weekend. But while one of Gardner's attorneys called it an "extremely sad day," Scurlock's family doesn't feel quite the same way. "Are we supposed to feel bad?" Riss Mitchell, Scurlock's older sister, tells KETV, via the Daily Beast. "Personally, I don't have any condolences to give and never will." Scurlock's father cites the "lack of closure" the family now feels after Gardner's suicide. "You can't orchestrate a murder and then take your own life," James Scurlock II says. Gardner attorney Stu Dornan said at a Sunday presser that his client, an Iraq War veteran, had been "shook up" from the felony charges against him, per NPR, adding Gardner suffered from PTSD and had acted in self-defense in the shooting.

But Scurlock's family is pushing back on that, noting that if he was truly innocent, he would've been eager to clear his name in court. "Why was he so afraid to go to trial?" another sister, Chandalea Jones, tells KETV. Mitchell, meanwhile, isn't buying the PTSD defense. "A lot of people have trauma they are dealing with from the past," she notes. "That does not mean [the shooting] was OK." Scurlock's family also says they've been threatened over his killing. "We have to live with the fact that people genuinely don't like us because someone killed our brother," Jones says, while Mitchell predicts how things would've gone down if the tables had been turned. "If my brother would've killed [Gardner], my brother would have been arrested, charged, and convicted, waiting for sentencing right now," she says. (More Nebraska stories.)

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