In the wake of the death of George Floyd, things got very ugly in Minneapolis. We all watched as neighborhoods burned to the ground, all because some people were angry and didn’t want to try to express themselves in a more productive way.
During the course of the ensuing riots, a lot of things happened. I doubt anyone knows all the stories, but at least one is public knowledge. A Minneapolis pawnshop owner shot someone claiming self-defense.
Prosecutors opted to take a look at the claims. Now that they have, they’ve decided not to press charges because the rioters destroyed all the evidence.
Hennepin County prosecutors said Monday that they would not bring criminal charges against a south Minneapolis pawnshop owner who fatally shot a man during the unrest that followed George Floyd’s death earlier this year, saying they lacked the evidence to rebut the owner’s self-defense claim.
County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement that the destruction of potential video evidence by looters and the refusal of key witnesses to testify precluded prosecutors from charging the owner, John Rieple, in the death of 43-year-old Calvin Horton.
“Based upon the facts and available evidence, the state could not prove it was not self-defense and prosecutors are ethically prohibited from filing charges against someone knowing it would not be possible to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” the statement read. Prosecutors said they reached their decision following an “exhaustive” six-month police investigation.
While the Star Tribune generally does not identify people who haven’t been charged with a crime, it is doing so with Rieple because his identity as the owner of the pawnshop is widely known and because he has been identified in other news accounts of Horton’s killing.
Rieple, who was arrested the same night and later released, has maintained that he fired at Horton in self-defense. He has also refused to speak to investigators, prosecutors said.
Horton’s relatives have pushed back on the suggestion that the father of seven took part in the looting that followed Floyd’s death. And, they argued that even if he had he didn’t deserve to be killed. Neither police nor prosecutors have publicly described Horton as a looter, though they’ve acknowledge that it was one of the theories they were investigating.
I’m sorry, the guy was knee-deep in the middle of a freaking riot. You can claim he wasn’t looting all you want, and he might not have been. However, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t engaged in activities that are arguably worse. After all, the widespread arson during that time could certainly necessitate someone feeling as if their life was threatened.
Considering what happened to the evidence that might have said what happened one way or another, that’s a plausible explanation.
Then again, what’s rare is a family that mourns the loss of their loved ones while not trying to tell the world that they were good people who simply couldn’t have threatened someone’s life.
In this case, we don’t know for sure if they’re wrong or not. The rioters in Minneapolis made sure of that, didn’t they?
Honestly, the prosecutors made the right call, no matter what actually happened. Rieple may have gotten away with something or he may have acted in self-defense, but without evidence one way or another, what can they do.
Since Horton was involved with the “unrest” taking place, it was his compatriots who made any prosecution impossible. I hope his family takes it up with them.