'Straight to Gunshots': How a U.S. Task Force Killed an Antifa Activist
Police officers stand over an area of the shooting and killing at Portland, OR of Aaron Danielson on August 29, 2020.
(The New York Times / Mason Trinca)
It was on the hunt for Michael Reinoehl.
A few days after a shooting, a far-right Trump supporter who had been identified the news media as the subject of the inquiry left in the streets of Portland, Oregon, Reinoehl worried that he had been tracked by vigilants, not to mention by cops.
She didn't really realize where he was from those close friends.
Yet the officials knew it.
On 3 Sept., roughly 120 miles north of Portland, Reinoehl reached his VW station when a pair of unscheduled sports cars rummaged along quiet highways, screaming to a stop right before his truck.
Makers of the United States
Task Force Marshals leapt out and unveiled a shower of bullets that rattled walls, destroyed citizens in the past and left Reinoehl in the street dead.
The Officers had opened fire, he added, when Reinoehl "tempted to avoid the capture" and "made a fire-arm." During the conference, the Officer General William Barre said that the action had been a "mass success" that eliminated "the aggressive agitators."
But a reconstruction of what occurred that night, relying on the testimony of those who observed the confrontation and the authorities' early conclusions, gives a somewhat different view — posing concerns as to whether police officers had seriously tried to apprehend Reinoehl before he had been murdered.
In interviews with 22 individuals who were close to the site, all but one claimed that the officers could not hear the identification or orders until the fire began.
The officers gave contradictory accounts as to why they saw Reinoehl with a pistol in their official comments, which were not yet made public.
One told researchers that he figured he saw Reinoehl lift a weapon inside the car before the fire started, but two others did not.
According to the county sheriff team that is performing a criminal murder inquiry into Reinoehl 's demise, Reinoehl had a handgun at a caliber of 380 when he was murdered.
But in his pocket the pistol was found.
An AR-style weapon seemed to have been contained in a car bag unchanged.
In interviews with five eyewitnesses, the guns started as the cars came.
None saw a shield carried by Reinoehl.
Within the vehicle was discovered a single shell case of the same caliber as his handgun.
Garrett Louis, who witnessed the fire started as his 8 years-old son was attempting to stay out of the line of flight, said the officers approached at such a pace and aggression that he believed that they were originally drug traffickers who shot at an adversary — before he noticed their police jackets.
"I still regard the police, but things certainly have not been handled adequately, in any aspect, in any shape of form," Louis said.
The U.S. Marshals Service refused to elaborate on this report by referencing the ongoing inquiry.
The department claimed it had wanted to "peacefully apprehend" Reinoehl and that the lives of law enforcement officers were endangered.
The activity was commended by President Donald Trump, who characterized the demonstrations of civil justice that shook the country as the work of lawless offenders.
"This individual and the United States became a dangerous criminal.
The president told Fox News that Marshals assassinated him.
"There's something I can tell you, it must be that way.
When you've had violence like this, there must be punishment.
'It looked like the onset of a war' '
After George Floyd 's killing of Minneapolis Police in May, Reinoehl joined demonstrators in Portland and posted online that they fought a battle required to "settle everything." Reinoehl dedicated himself to the Black Lives Matter cause and once stated to have been 100 percent ANTIFA on the entire.
In June, after he was cited for driving under the influence of a controlled drug and carrying an unlicensed weapon in a vehicle, Reinoehl, a 48-year-old millionaire and aspiring snowboarders, had an issue with the rule.
Later, after the demonstrations, police detained him and called him to the public place on suspicion of bringing a loaded firearms, but the charges were dismissed.
As police demonstrations started in Portland, he built a niche to provide protection and search for agitators.
After a convoy of allies of Trump came to Portland on August 29th and started confronting demonstrators, a surveillance camera captured Reinoehl staring at one of them, Aaron J. Danielson, a member of the Patriot Prayer extreme right party who stepped on a bear repellent baton.
Seconds later, Danielson was fired in a different live stream video and later The Oregonian newspaper announced that Reinoehl was being prosecuted.
Reinoehl claimed he had shot in self-defense in aninterview while hiding the Vice News broadcast on Sept. 3.
"It felt like the outbreak of a battle, that blast," he said.
A peaceful night and a surprise assault
The day the interview was televised by U.S. authorities.
Task Force for Surveillance Gatherings Marshals' Pacific Northwest Criminal Abuser.
The unit, which involved federal , state and local police departments, was also informed of the fact that Reinoehl was living in Lacey, Washington, in a brick complex of apartments.
According to Lt. Ray Brady, of the Thurston County Sheriff's Office, who heads the team investigating Reinoehl 's murder, the task force has details from an informant, submitted by Portland Police, regarding the whereabouts of Reinoehl and about the possession of weapons.
Although the police in Portland already have a warrant to detain Reinoehl, the task force is able to step in.
That night the area was silent outside the apartment complex where Reinoehl claimed the police lived.
Louis, a retired American carpenter.
Army doctor and a community associate observed his son riding his bike.
In the corner, Chad Smith and two mates, Jon Chastain and Chase Cutler, finished their cars an afternoon.
Leaving the apartment, Reinoehl started for his Volkswagen, parking about 100 foot away on the driveway.
Brady, who discussed some of the first findings of this inquiry with The New York Times, said two officers found Reinoehl, which went into the vehicle.
The officers informed the prosecutors, partially to prevent a high-speed search, they wanted to apprehend him instantly.
Smith and his friends claimed he and his head turned to a car that was quickly accelerating and heading for the south for Reinoehl.
A second SUV law enquiry, which was parked away from the home of Smith, passed so fast that friends assumed that they saw a road rage or a gang shoot.
Smith and Cutler watched the unmarked SUVs through watching them taking the corner and speed across the lawn.
Nate Dinguss, who had been living at the apartment in the location where Reinoehl slept, said that when he entered his vehicle, Reinoehl was eating a rubber worm with a telephone in one side and one pocket in the other.
In an interview, Dinguss said officials started to hop from the cars until they stopped entirely and one of them suddenly opened fire before any instructions had been issued.
Another guy walking by his dog claimed that almost instantly after the SUVs halted a rash of around ten shootings and that he didn't remember hearing orders. Another man told him.
Louis, who was about 140 meters from Reinoehl on the other side of the scene, also informed the officers, as did Cutler and Smith, that they were fire open instantly.
"No, 'Get out of the vehicle! There was no!
'No,' Non! 'It was no!
'Nothing there was.
They got out of the vehicle and kept firing, "said Louis.
Smith similarly mentioned it: "No shouting was made.
No shouting was there.
No altercation happened.
It's been all gunshots.
Of the 22 people questioned by The Times who claimed that they were close to the attack, only one person recorded hearing any cries until the bullets started.
Quentin Gruner, who's 75 feet away in his flat, said he was leaving his dog out when he noticed the scream that his neighbours, accompanied by a popping crash, were battling.
The four SUV officers told Thurston County Sheriff's investigators in their interviews that they yelled "Stop! They yelled."
"Brady said before he opened the fire.
But the officers offered contradictory accounts about what prompted them to start shooting.
One said that he saw Reinoehl raising "what they assumed was a rifle," inside the car, Brady said.
He said that two other officers saw just Reinoehl step into the central console.
Brady claimed Reinoehl had evidently hit the first shots inside the car, and post-math footage indicates bullet signals at the windshield driver's side.
Though seemingly hurt, Reinoehl started to move away from the police.
Officer kept fires and Brady said the last blast brought him down when Reinoehl approached the street from behind a neighboring vehicle.
The coroner of Thurston City, Gary Warnock, said he most possibly died instantly.
Controversies of these final shots were often offered by the police.
One claimed Reinoehl was aiming a pistol while on the driveway.
Others claimed he seemed to want to "rescue" one from the pocket of his pants.
Brady said that police discovered the weapons while examining the body of Reinoehl.
He was in the pocket already.
Out of the two rifles and two pistols, four officers shot about 30 bullets, says Brady.
A reporter's visit to the site, as well as footage and aftermath images, revealed that at least eight bullets of the officers reached civil advocate