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Thurston County Sheriff’s Office not letting Trump comments influence investigation

Officials work at the area late Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, in Lacey Wash., where a man suspected of fatally shooting a supporter of a right-wing group in Portland, Ore., the week before was killed as investigators moved in to arrest him. (AP photo/Ted Warren)

Despite recent statements by President Trump, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office says politics will not influence its investigation into the death of a wanted man at the hands of U.S. Marshals near Lacey.

Antifa activist Michael Reinoehl was wanted on suspicion of killing Patriot Prayer member Aaron Danielson at a late August rally in Portland. A task force of U.S. Marshals and local law enforcement officers caught up to Reinoehl in Thurston County a week later; in the ensuing conflict, officers shot and killed him.

At a rally in North Carolina last week, the president claimed that he sent the federal officers in with the intention of killing Reinoehl.

“Fifteen minutes, it was over. We got him,” Trump stated. “They knew who he was, they didn’t want to arrest him, and in 15 minutes, that ended.”

However, Lieutenant Ray Brady with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office said that such statements will not have any sway over their independent investigation.

“We fully understand that there have been comments made through various sources, including things of a political nature that have been made,” Brady said. “Certainly it’s something that our team hears, but it in no way influences the way we investigate this case.”

Brady said they are treating the investigation as a criminal investigation.

“We are conducting the investigation in the same manner that we conduct all officer-involved shooting investigations,” Brady said.

Officer-involved shootings are looked at as homicides.

“It is considered a homicide when someone dies at the hands of someone else,” Brady explained. “We are conducting it as a thorough criminal investigation.”

Brady said Reinoehl was armed at the time of the confrontation.

“One of the officers advised that [right before the shooting] he believed that what he saw was a firearm that was pointed at him,” he said. “And then another officer described Mr. Reinoehl actively attempting the remove the firearm from the pocket of his pants.”

Brady continued, “There are many more factors that go into that as far as their perceptions and what exactly was going through their minds at the time that they fired, and so each individual officer is looked at at the time that they used lethal force.”

The case will be sent to the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office when the investigation is complete.

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