Skip to content Skip to footer

Trump Appears to Admit Extrajudicial Killing of Michael Reinoehl Was Planned

Witnesses to Reinoehl’s killing said police had not identified themselves before shooting him.

President Trump speaks at a rally on October 15, 2020, in Greenville, North Carolina.

President Donald Trump made alarming remarks on Thursday regarding the police-perpetrated killing of Michael Forest Reinoehl in early September, suggesting to a crowd of supporters that his death was premeditated.

“We sent in the U.S. Marshals, took 15 minutes and it was over,” Trump said at a campaign event in Greenville, North Carolina, in a reference to Reinoehl, an activist who had had an arrest warrant for shooting and killing a far right supporter of the president during a protest in Portland, Oregon, in August. “They got him. They knew who he was, they didn’t want to arrest him and 15 minutes that ended.”

Trump’s remarks appear to admit that Reinoehl’s death at the hands of law enforcement was an extrajudicial murder, and was not preceded by any attempts to arrest Reinoehl.

In discussing his shooting of Aaron Danielson in August, Reinoehl said his actions were done in self-defense, alleging that Danielson, who was part of a caravan in support of Trump, was about to murder someone.

“I had no choice,” Reinoehl said in early September. “I mean, I, I had a choice. I could have sat there and watched them kill a friend of mine of color. But I wasn’t going to do that.”

A few days after making those remarks, Reinoehl was shot and killed in Lacey, Washington, by federal officials, who claimed he had drawn a weapon during an attempt to arrest him. However, according to a witness to the shooting, Reinoehl was not holding a weapon, but was talking on a cellphone and eating gummy worms.

The witness further alleged that “officers opened fire without first announcing themselves or trying to arrest him.”

In total, 21 out of 22 witnesses to Reinoehl’s death have said they did not see law enforcement announce themselves before killing him in a hailstorm of over 30 bullets.

On Tuesday, during a campaign rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the president made similar remarks about the extrajudicial killing of Reinoehl.

“Two days went by. Three days went by. I said, ‘Why the hell haven’t they arrested him?'” Trump said. “And they knew who he was. And we sent in the U.S. Marshals. And in 15 minutes it was all over. That was the end of it. That was the end of it.”

Trump’s initial remarks on Reinoehl’s killing were issued in mid-September during an interview with Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro in which the president appeared to justify the extrajudicial police-perpetrated killing.

“This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. Marshals killed him. And I’ll tell you something — that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution,” Trump said.

The president struck a much different tone when it came to Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Illinois who killed two Black Lives Matter demonstrators with an assault rifle at a protest against the police-perpetrated shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“He [Rittenhouse] was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like,” he said. “I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would have been killed.”

Rittenhouse is an adamant supporter of Trump, and attended one of the president’s rallies in January of this year.

A critical message, before you scroll away

You may not know that Truthout’s journalism is funded overwhelmingly by individual supporters. Readers just like you ensure that unique stories like the one above make it to print – all from an uncompromised, independent perspective.

At this very moment, we’re conducting a fundraiser with a goal to raise $13,000. So, if you’ve found value in what you read today, please consider a tax-deductible donation in any size to ensure this work continues. We thank you kindly for your support.