Gardner family files lawsuit against Douglas County, special prosecutor

OMAHA, Neb. -- The family of Jacob Gardner has filed a lawsuit against Douglas County and a special prosecutor assigned to oversee the grand jury in the shooting death of James Scurlock. 

The lawsuit, filed Monday, alleges that Gardner was denied due process, mostly due to remarks made by special prosecutor Frederick Franklin, and ultimately led Gardner to end his life. 

Last fall, the Gardner family called to release the grand jury transcripts after an indictment of manslaughter for the death of the 22-year-old killed during a protest. 

The lawsuit alleges that the indictment - which they called reckless, and misleading - caused their son, a combat war veteran suffering from PTSD, emotional trauma that led to his death by suicide. 

Prosecutor Don Kleine had initially refused to press charges after last May's shooting.

The Scurlock family's attorney and Nebraska State Senator, Justin Wayne, asked Kleine to send the case to a grand jury. Wayne said Gardner should face other charges, such as manslaughter, a concealed carry permit violation, or for firing gunshots within Omaha city limits. Gardner had once held an active Nebraska Concealed Handgun Permit, but it had expired by the time of the shooting.

Gardner was ultimately indicted by the grand jury on manslaughter, attempted first-degree assault, making terroristic threats and use of a weapon to commit a felony. If convicted, Gardner could have faced a maximum of 95 years imprisonment. His reported deadline date to turn himself in was September 20, the same day he died.

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