A black man who was beaten by a group of white supremacists last year and later charged with assault was found not guilty Friday, The Washington Post reports.
DeAndre Harris attended the white nationalist "Unite the Right" rally as a counterprotester in August 2017. The rally was organized to denounce the removal of Confederate statues in Charlottesville, Virginia, but quickly broke into violence, leading to the death of counterprotester Heather Heyer.
Harris was attacked by a group of five white nationalists, who viciously beat him, leaving him with a spinal injury and significant head lacerations. But one of his attackers, Harold Crews, turned the tables by filing a police report that claimed Harris had swung a flashlight at Crews and wounded him. Crews sought felony charges and a prison sentence — a move his fellow white supremacists celebrated online, the Post reports.
Charlottesville officials arrested Harris in October, and he was eventually tried on a misdemeanor charge of assault and battery. The judge acquitted him Friday, saying Harris acted in defense of his friend, who was being attacked nearby.
Four of Harris' assailants have been charged in the beating; their trials are set to begin in the coming months.