President Donald Trump appeared to support law enforcement officers who take criminal justice into their own hands after U.S. marshals killed a man suspected in a fatal shooting in Oregon last month. “There has to be retribution when you have a crime like that,” Trump said.
Trump’s apparent endorsement of extrajudicial killing came after members of a fugitive task force shot and killed Michael Forest Reinoehl, 39, a self-described anti-fascist, on Sept. 3. Reinoehl was wanted on suspicion of fatally shooting a member of a far-right group in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 29.
“This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. marshals killed him, and I will tell you something, that’s the way it has to be,” Trump told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, a former New York state judge, in an interview that aired Saturday.
Trump also appeared to suggest that law enforcement officers take similar action against demonstrators suspected of committing violent acts. He made his comments as protesters across the country demonstrate against racism and police brutality amid the police killings of Black Americans.
“You can’t throw bricks at guys with shields on them,” he said.
Reinoehl’s shooting death came the same day that Trump took to Twitter to call for Reinoehl’s arrest, calling him a “cold blooded killer.”
Authorities said that Reinoehl was armed and resisted arrest at the time he was shot to death. An investigation into the shooting continues.
One witness told The Washington Post that he never saw Reinoehl pull out a gun. Nate Dinguss said he saw officers pull up to Reinoehl in two unmarked police vehicles, get out without identifying themselves and immediately start firing their weapons at him.
But two other witnesses told The Olympian that they saw Reinoehl fire what they thought was an assault rifle at the unmarked SUVs after the vehicles pulled up to him.
A Thurston County Sheriff’s Office investigation has not yet determined whether Reinoehl fired, brandished or displayed a semiautomatic handgun that was reportedly found with him.
If Reinoehl threatened officers or posed a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to them, they would not need a reason to warn him before opening fire.
The American criminal justice system presumes that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Taking punitive action against a suspect before then would run counter to that system.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the state from depriving any person of life without due process of law. It also prohibits the state from denying “any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”