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Lawsuit: Washington Police Officers Planned to Kill “Anti-Fascist” Murder Suspect

— July 13, 2023

The lawsuit alleges that Washington state police officers planned to kill Michael Forest Reinoehl, a self-identified “anti-fascist” implicated in the murder of a Trump-supporting Black Lives Matter counter-protester.

A recently filed federal lawsuit alleges that police officers in Washington state intended to use deadly force against a wanted fugitive, even when the man could have been apprehended without violence.

According to The Associated Press, the complaint was filed on behalf of the estate of Michael Forest Reinoehl, an Evergreen State man who identified as an “anti-fascist.”

Reinoehl, notes The Associate Press, had gone into hiding after he was accused of shooting a Donald Trump supporter during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in Portland, Oregon.

“The actions of the officers, before, during, and after the shooting, show that they either had no plan to arrest the man without injury, made no effort to follow such a plan, or planned to use deadly force from the state,” alleges the lawsuit, which was filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

Reinoehl had shot and killed Aaron “Jay” Danielson amidst a confrontation between racial justice protesters and far-right counter-protesters.

The counter-protesters were holding a “car rally” in downtown Portland at the time of Danielson’s shooting.

The murder was recorded by a surveillance camera, sparking a short manhunt.

Then-President Donald Trump publicly called on local police officers to, “Do your job, and do it fast.”

A task force, comprised of federal law enforcement agencies and local police officers, eventually located Reinoehl in an apartment complex in Lacey, Washington, near Olympia.

Black Lives Matter graffiti in Portland, OR. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user:Another Believer. (CCA-BY-4.0).

While Reinoehl was exiting his vehicle, no fewer than four officers opened fire, killing him.

The lawsuit claims that police officers wearing “militia-style fatigues” had “raced through” the quiet residential neighborhood in pursuit of Reinoehl, purportedly “spraying” dozens of bullets with reckless abandon.

“Meanwhile, the officers sprayed more than 40 bullets through the neighborhood, killing [Reinoehl], grazing a child playing nearby, and striking cars, fences, backyard playground equipment, buildings, and residences,” the complaint alleges.

At least five of those bullets struck Reinoehl, killing him.

Attorneys for the Reinoehl estate note that, although Reinoehl was armed at the time of his death, he had not chambered any rounds, nor did he ever brandish the weapon.

The lawsuit states that the officers only learned that Reinoehl was carrying a handgun after he had already been killed, yet seized the opportunity to coordinate an account of the encounter.

The Reinoehl estate is seeking compensatory damages for “pre-death pain and suffering,” “compensation for Reinoehl’s loss of his civil right to be free from the use of excessive force by law enforcement,” and additional, non-compensatory punitive damages.

Trump, adds Rolling Stone, publicly celebrated Reinoehl’s death, telling FOX News that Reinoehl was a “violent criminal” who deserved to die.

“This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. Marshals killed him,” Trump said at the time. “And I will tell you something, that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution when you have a crime like this.”

Trump also suggested that the U.S. Marshals “didn’t want to arrest” Reinoehl, and had—apparently—planned to kill Reinoehl before he was ever located.


1 killed as Trump supporters, protesters clash in Portland

Estate of anti-fascist shot and killed by police in Washington state files wrongful death lawsuit

Trump Cheered His Killing As ‘Retribution,’ Now His Family Is Suing in Court

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