48-year-old Michael Forest Reinoehl claimed that he acted in self defense, and defense of others, when shooting and killing Aaron J. Danielson, a member of the right-wing group “Patriot Prayer,” during a violent Trump rally in Portland, Oregon, on August 29th. However, he will not live to see his day in court, because he was killed by police when they attempted to arrest him.
According to the New York Times, police say that he pulled a gun and threatened to shoot during the arrest.
“Initial reports indicate the suspect produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers. Task force members responded to the threat and struck the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene,” the Marshals Service said in a statement.
In an interview with Vice that was posted roughly an hour before he was killed by police, Reinoehl said he had acted in self-defense, saying that he and one of his friends were about to be stabbed by the man he killed.
“I could have sat there and watched them kill a friend of mine of color, but I wasn’t going to do that,” he said.
Reinoehl worked unofficially as “security” for Antifa at numerous protests.
Randal McCorkle, a regular at the protests in Portland, says that Reinoehl usually kept the peace.
“Nightly, he would break up fights. He wanted change so badly,” McCorkle said.
Teal Lindseth, one of the main organizers of the Portland protests, said that, “He was literally a guardian angel. He would protect you no matter what.”
Just before he was killed by police, Reinoehl gave an interview with Vice where he shared his story.
On the night that Danielson was killed, hundreds of Trump supporters were traveling in a caravan through the city, and a large group of them headed downtown to antagonize Black Lives Matter protesters who had gathered there.
Reinoehl says that police were allowing Trump supporters to attack and pepper spray people in the street so he went to intervene to prevent what he saw as an attack. In many of the protests that have taken place across the country so far, police have given preferential treatment to ring-wing groups that are overwhelmingly pro-police, while using the harshest force against left-wing protesters, who are typically anti-police.
Reinoehl was evasive when asked about the specific details of how the shooting took place, and said that for legal purposes, he should not mention specifics. That statement seems to indicate that he was expecting to be arrested and that he did not intend on having a violent standoff with police.
Reinoehl also said that he believes that the country is inching towards a type of civil war, which seems accurate considering that every few days someone is either shot and killed at a protest or in some type of political or racially motivated crime. There isn’t a day that passes where police don’t kill anyone either, and people are starting to recognize that these killings have very real political consequences as well.
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