Washington officer who killed antifascist Michael Reinoehl to face no criminal charges
- Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim found that the use of force was justified
- Michael Reinoehl was shot and killed when four officers fired at him
- The officers at the scene said that Reinoehl failed to comply with their commands
No criminal charges will be filed by a Washington state prosecutor against police who shot and killed Michael Reinoehl, an antifascist fugitive. The fugitive was wanted in last year's case of a highly publicised death of a right-wing demonstrator in Portland, Oregon.
In a memo that was dated for Monday, Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim found that the use of force was justified, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
A US Marshals-led task force was trying to arrest 48-year-old Reinoehl at an apartment complex in Lacey, near Olympia, in September 2020 when four officers fired at him as he exited his car, the Associated Press reported.
Reinoehl was caught on camera shooting Aaron "Jay" Danielson, a supporter of the far-right group Patriot Prayer, on August 29, 2020, after a demonstration backing them-President Donald Trump. He was on the run since then.
Trump had backed the manhunt for Reinoehl, tweeting just before he was killed for police to "Do your job, and do it fast."
The Thurston County Sheriff's Office previously determined that Reinoehl likely fired first at the officers, based on witness and officer statements as well as a spent shell casing discovered in Reinoehl's vehicle.
Reinoehl's gun — the same .380-caliber handgun he used to kill Danielson — had a fully loaded clip, but no bullet in the chamber. Investigators said they couldn't prove when that shot was fired because they never found the bullet.
According to a summary of the investigative findings released last spring, the officers at the scene said that Reinoehl failed to comply with their commands and that he reached for his gun. Witnesses reported that task force members were readily identifiable because of their badges, vests, and markings.
The officers who fired at Reinoehl were Jacob Whitehurst with the Washington Department of Corrections, Pierce County sheriff's deputies James Oleole and Craig Gocha, and Lakewood police officer Michael Merrill, according to AP.
The attorney representing Reinoehl's family, Braden Pence, called Tunheim's report "disappointing but not surprising."
(With Associated Press inputs)