Michael Reinoehl Pointed Gun at Police
Police responsible for the investigation into the killing of Michael Reinoehl, the man who appeared to admit to shooting and killing a right-wing protester at a pro-Trump rally in Portland earlier this month, say he drew a handgun on the fugitive task force trying to arrest him.
“Mr. Reinoehl pointed the handgun that he had in his possession at the officers at the time of the shooting,” read a statement by Lieutenant Ray Brady of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO), which is investigating the incident and did not have officers involved in the now highly-scrutinized event in Lacey, Washington, where Reinoehl was killed. Whether or not Reinoehl successfully fired at the officers remains uncertain, but investigators say they found a shell casing in his vehicle that matches the caliber of the gun that was in his hand.
“Detectives located a fired shell casing in the vehicle that is the same caliber as the firearm in Mr. Reinoehl’s possession. At this time, we are not able to determine at this time if this shell casing is an exact match to the firearm in his possession even though it is the same caliber.”
The TCSO also says it found an AR-15-style .22 caliber rifle in the front seat of Reinoehl’s vehicle, but did not indicate that it was fired or used by him during the incident.
Multiple versions of events have emerged since Reinoehl was gunned down by a task force led by U.S. Marshals charged with arresting him for murder.
At first, one eyewitness said Reinoehl drew an assault rifle and fired at police before being killed. That same eyewitness then told VICE News he was misquoted and that he never saw Reinoehl fire or draw a weapon. Another eyewitness told the Washington Post and the Oregonian he saw Reinoehl holding a cellphone and eating a gummy bear before being swiftly shot down by police. (Both witnesses expressed fear of retribution from political extremists for speaking on the record about the circumstances surrounding Reinoehl’s death.)
Those two accounts directly dispute what U.S. Marshals initially told the public about the incident. They, along with Attorney General William Barr, claimed that Reinoehl threateningly pulled his handgun on the task force, which was made up of officers from three different local police forces.
“Initial reports indicate the suspect produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers,” said the U.S. Marshals office in an early statement on the incident. “Task force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene.” (The Marshals now tell VICE News that “per policy, we cannot comment as this is an ongoing investigation.”)
President Trump described the killing as “retribution” on a Fox News show, fueling theories that Reinoehl’s death wasn’t an arrest gone wrong but a police execution.