Police killed Portland shooting suspect Michael Reinoehl without warning, provocation, witness says

Police invesitage police shooting of Michael Reinoehl
(Image credit: Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

The U.S. Marshals Service says that when members of its Pacific Northwest Violent Offender Task Force fatally shot Michael Reinoehl in Lacey, Washington, on Sept. 3, "initial reports indicate the suspect produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers." Local law enforcement on the task force went to arrest Reinoehl, a self-described anti-fascist supporter, on a warrant for second-degree murder for the death of a far-right activist, Aaron "Jay" Danielson. Police said they found a handgun in Reinoehl's possession but did not say if he ever fired it. A witness has come forward to say Reinoehl never even appeared to draw his gun.

Nate Dinguss, a 39-year-old minister who lives in the apartment complex where Reinoehl was gunned down, told The Oregonian on Wednesday and The Washington Post on Thursday that police didn't even warn Reinoehl before firing. The Post summarized his statement, issued through a lawyer:

[Dinguss] said he watched as two unmarked police vehicles converged on Reinoehl as he walked to his car, holding his phone and chewing on a piece of candy. The officers never audibly identified themselves and didn't try to arrest Reinoehl, Dinguss said.Instead, he said they immediately began firing. When Reinoehl heard the gunfire, he ducked behind his car, which was pinned in by the law enforcement vehicles; he never tried to get inside, Dinguss said, and he never saw him reaching for a weapon. Dinguss said he watched police unleash rapid-fire rounds at Reinoehl, once pausing to shout "Stop!" before resuming their fire. [The Washington Post]

Two other purported witnesses, Chad Smith and Chase Cutler, told The Olympian the night of the shooting that they saw the suspect fire at police, though they had several details wrong, including saying he fired 40 to 50 shots at the police with an assault rifle after getting out of his car.

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The Thurston County Sheriff's Office, which wasn't involved, is investigating the shooting. The four officers who shot Reinoehl were from the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, Lakewood Police Department, and the Washington Department of Corrections, all acting in U.S. Marshal capacity.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.