Gardner's lawyers claim Scurlock's death was a clear case of self-defense, after Gardner's bar came under attack; CCTV footage from the night showed him in a confrontation with protesters outside the bar, which had just had its windows smashed.
After being shoved to the ground, Gardner fired two shots; Scurlock then jumped on his back and was fatally shot.
The decision not to charge Gardner and release him was met with furious reaction at the time, as protesters claimed Scurlock had been trying to stop him from shooting anybody else.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine was accused of overlooking Gardner's alleged "racist past"; after intense pressure he asked the grand jury to reexamine the case. When prosecutors did, they said they found evidence — primarily from Gardner himself in texts and social media — that "undermined" the self-defense theory.
Last Tuesday, the grand jury indicted him on four charges: manslaughter, attempted first-degree assault, terroristic threats and weapon use, which collectively bore a maximum prison sentence of 95 years.
On Friday, a judge approved an arrest warrant. According to his lawyers, Gardner had agreed to hand himself in on Sunday. Instead, he was found dead near Portland, Oregon.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday night, Gardner's attorney Stu Dornan said his client had fully and honestly cooperated with law enforcement, and one of the most respected and seasoned prosecutors had decided not to charge or even arrest him.
He said Gardner, an ex-Marine who served in Iraq, was on disability payments because of PTSD, having suffered two traumatic brain injuries.
"He told us that he felt he was in a war zone that night outside of his bar, with the violence, the tear gas and the mass confusion," Dornan said.
FOOTAGE OF JAKE GARDNER DEFENDING HIMSELF DURING OMAHA RIOTS, LATER CHARGED WITH MANSLAUGHTER TODAY DIED FROM SUICIDE pic.twitter.com/UkxlVfqV1Q
Dornan said he advised Gardner to leave Omaha because of the intense death threats he was receiving, which led him to hire a bodyguard. Clearly emotional, Dornan said two men lost their lives in what was a terrible tragedy, that culminated in a "trail by media."
"This violence must stop. The justice system must be allowed to do its work. Cases should be decided in a courtroom, and not on social media in the context of public opinion.
"This is an extremely sad day, a day that didn't have to happen... a day that another vet took his own life at his own hand."