Sep 17, 2020
New Evidence Key to Charges in Nebraska Protester's Death
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By JOSH FUNK, Associated Press
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — This week's decision to charge a white bar owner who fatally shot a Black man during a chaotic night of protests in downtown Omaha months after the shooting was deemed self-defense highlights how difficult it can be to sort out these cases.
The key difference in the Omaha case is that the grand jury that reviewed the case had additional evidence about what happened before surveillance video showed Jake Gardner shooting 22-year-old James Scurlock on May 30 after the two scuffled.In at least one other instance of violence during protests this year, authorities are still trying to sort out what happened.
In Minnesota, 43-year-old Calvin Horton Jr. was fatally shot near a Minneapolis pawn shop on May 27 as protests over George Floyd’s death began to turn violent. The pawn shop’s owner was arrested the night of the shooting but released several days later, with prosecutors saying they needed more information about what happened before the shooting to consider charges. Horton’s family complained in July of getting little information on the case. Hennepin County attorney’s office spokeswoman Lacey Severins said Wednesday the case remains under investigation.
“It can often be hard to sort out,” Fordham University law professor Jim Cohen said about crimes during protests. “It’s often not so easy to sort out who is unlawfully protesting — meaning looting, for example — and who is lawfully protesting.”
Those two shootings happened as protests and civil unrest has roiled cities across the country over Floyd's May 25 death at the hands of Minneapolis police. Floyd, who was Black and handcuffed, died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes even after Floyd stopped moving and pleading for air.
In Omaha, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine initially decided Gardner, the bar owner, acted in self-defense after he reviewed video of the incident and witness statements in the days after the shooting, but he asked the grand jury to examine the case after his decision was criticized because he wanted people to have faith in the justice system.
On Tuesday, Special Prosecutor Frederick Franklin said that additional evidence from Gardner's phone and his Facebook Messenger account, along with video from inside his bar, shed light on his intent the night of the shooting. He said the new evidence undermines the self-defense theory although he wouldn't provide specifics of exactly what it showed.
Gardner was also charged with attempted assault, making terroristic threats and using a gun to commit a felony. His attorney, Stu Dornan, didn't respond to phone messages from The Associated Press on Wednesday. Legal experts say prosecutors may have a difficult time securing a conviction because the case will hinge on what both men intended to do that night.
“Obviously the video tape evidence is going to be crucial in trying to determine whether or not Gardner believed that his life or his person were in grave danger under the circumstances,” said longtime Nebraska criminal attorney Clarence Mock, who has also served as a special prosecutor before.
The shooting happened outside Gardner's bar in downtown Omaha as he sought to ward off any theft or property damage. In June, officials played surveillance video that seemed to show words exchanged between Gardner, his father and protesters after the windows of his bar were broken. Gardner flashed the gun but then backed away. Gardner was shoved to the ground by two people before he fired two shots, sending people scrambling. Scurlock then jumped on Gardner’s back and was shot by Gardner. While there was no audio with the video, Kleine said Gardner warned Scurlock to get off of him several times before he fired the fatal shot.
Creighton University law school professor Raneta Mack said determining whether Scurlock was trying to stop Gardner from hurting anyone or whether he was trying to harm Gardner could be key in the case.
“If Mr. Scurlock was coming to the defense of his friends or even members of the general public and that is why he was grabbing Gardner and putting him into a chokehold, then Gardner does not have a right of self defense,” said Mack, who has taught criminal law for nearly three decades.
But Cohen said this will be a tough case for prosecutors because jurors tend to give defendants some benefit of the doubt when they were facing a chaotic situation.
“There is a deference accorded to those who are perceived by a jury as lawfully protecting their property,” Cohen said.
Of course, more evidence will be needed at trial to prove Gardner is guilty than what is required at this stage in the process. But the fact that Gardner has been charged means that the community will be able to learn more about what happened that night. Scurlock's death inspired protests in Omaha in the days after prosecutors initially declined to file charges.
“This will allow people to understand how the system works and be able to see for themselves what evidence the prosecution has and what evidence the defense presents to have maybe a greater understanding about what happened during the night of Mr. Scurlock’s death,” Mock said.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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After US Open run, Shapovalov piling up more wins in Rome
Bravo Stars React to NeNe Leakes Leaving ‘RHOA’ Inside BPs plan to dominate the global solar industry and rival the worlds largest operators After US Open run, Shapovalov piling up more wins in Rome © APWF Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, reacts after winning a point against Pablo Carreno Busta, of Spain, during the quarterfinal round of the US Open tennis championships, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
ROME (AP) From singles to doubles, hard courts to clay courts, North America to Europe, Denis Shapovalov just keeps playing - and, for the most part, winning.
After spending more than 22 hours on court over the previous two weeks at the U.S. Open, where he reached the quarterfinals in both singles and doubles, Shapovalov is still going strong after crossing the Atlantic.
The Canadian recovered from an early break in the second set to beat Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez 6-4, 6-4 Thursday and reach the third round of the Italian Open.
A few hours later, ''Shapo'' was back on court for doubles and teamed with Rohan Bopanna to knock out the top-seeded duo of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.
''Luckily, I'm still 21 years old,'' Shapovalov said. ''It's been a lot of tennis. For sure I'm feeling it physically, no question about it. But I'm getting good treatment every day. I'm just pushing through it.
''It's very tough, especially after the Grand Slam. Your body just kind of naturally wants to relax. ... But I'm really happy with the way I have been able to maintain my level and maintain physically.''
Shapovalov will continue playing singles and doubles at the French Open, which starts in 10 days.
Shapovalov also won his opening singles match in Rome in straight sets, over Argentine clay-courter Guido Pella.
''I'm a hard-court player, so it's definitely not easy matchups for me,'' Shapovalov said. ''I'm really happy to be through and really happy with the way my game has transitioned from the hard courts to the clay courts.''
Known for his attacking game and stylish shot-making, the 14th-ranked Shapovalov worked on adding more patience to his repertoire with new coach Mikhail Youzhny during the five-month break for the coronavirus pandemic.
''Obviously I like to pull the trigger and go for my shots as early as possible,'' Shapovalov said. ''We had a lot of time to really build up the game.''
Shapovalov was the first player to reach the quarterfinals in both singles and doubles at the U.S. Open since Youzhny achieved the feat 14 years earlier.
''He's really trying to make me more of all-rounded and smarter player,'' Shapovalov said of his coach.
Shapovalov will next face Ugo Humbert, who eliminated Fabio Fognini 7-5, 7-6 (4).
Lorenzo Musetti, an 18-year-old Italian who needed a wild card just to get into qualifying, continued his dream run with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Kei Nishikori -- having beaten Stan Wawrinka in straight sets two days earlier.
Musetti became the youngest player to reach the third round in Rome since Fabrice Santoro in 1991.
Nishikori was returning from right elbow surgery and missed the U.S. Open after testing positive for COVID-19.
Also at the Foro Italico, which is devoid of fans this year because of the pandemic, Dusan Lajovic defeated Milos Raonic 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-2 and will next face nine-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal; and Hubert Hurkacz beat U.S. Open quarterfinalist Andrey Rublev 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-2.
U.S. Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka is also putting together an impressive run, to which she added a 6-0, 6-0 rout of Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.
Azarenka committed only four unforced errors to 22 from Kenin, who double-faulted on the first match point.
Also, ninth-seeded Garbine Muguruza eliminated 16-year-old Coco Gauff 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3 in an error-strewn match that included 24 double-faults - nine from Muguruza and a whopping 15 from Gauff, who was playing her first pro tournament on clay.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova rallied past 14th-seeded Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 and will next face two-time Rome champion Elina Svitolina, last year's French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova beat Dutch qualifier Arantxa Rus 6-3, 6-3, and Yulia Putintseva ousted eighth-seeded Petra Martic 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4.
More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
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