The city of Portland, Oregon, has been sued over the death of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, a supporter of the right-leaning Patriot Prayer group who was fatally shot allegedly by a backer of the left-wing Antifa movement.
A lawyer for the Danielson estate filed the lawsuit in federal court Friday, hardly a year since the 39-year-old Portland resident was shot and killed following a rally held in support of former President Trump.
Danielson was slain on the evening of Aug. 29, 2020. Authorities subsequently identified a suspect, Michael Forest Reinoeh, but he was shot and killed, too, as police attempted to apprehend him several days later.
The lawsuit blames the death of Danielson on the city of Portland and two local officials – namely Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler and Michael Schmidt, the nonpartisan district attorney for Multnomah County, Oregon.
Danielson was killed as Portland experienced months of frequent protesting and counterprotesting by right- and left-leaning activists, and the lawsuit argues the defendants’ lax policies allowed his death to occur.
Portland “maintained its hands-off approach to responding to demonstrations by maintaining the police bureau’s strategy to limit police intervention in protests and counter-demonstrations,” attorney Christopher L. Cauble wrote on behalf of the Danielson estate in the lawsuit. “The minimal police presence did not possess the adequate training to properly engage and coordinate with demonstrators or properly control crowds when tensions predictably would escalate.”
That lack of a police presence in Portland, the lawsuit alleges, “created a vacuum where peacekeeping efforts and criminal accountability should be; in its place, an environment of vigilantism emerged that ultimately led to the death of Aaron Danielson and could lead to further loss of the lives of civilians across the political spectrum, who should be able to exercise their constitutional rights without criminal interference.”
The lawsuit accuses defendants of deprivation of civil rights and negligence and seeks upwards of millions of dollars in damages. Defendants did not immediately answer requests for comment.
Danielson was shot and killed shortly after a caravan of cars driven by fellow Trump supporters paraded around Portland while participating in a so-called “car rally” held for the former Republican president.
Authorities later announced they suspected Reinoehl, 48, a self-described Antifa supporter, of killing Danielson, and said that both men were armed when the shooting occurred. Reinoehl then all but admitted as much.
“I had no choice. I mean, I had a choice,” Rienoehl told Vice News. “I could have sat there and watched them kill a friend of mine of color. But I wasn’t going to do that.”
Police shot and killed Reinoehl while serving an arrest warrant on Sept. 3. Mr. Trump subsequently expressed approval of that outcome several days later.
“I will tell you something — that’s the way it has to be,” Mr. Trump said on Fox News after police shot and killed Reinoehl. “There has to be retribution when you have crime like this.”
Danielson was killed wearing the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a far-right group active in the Pacific Northwest. Facebook banned the group from its services days later under its policy against dangerous organizations.
• Andrew Blake can be reached at email@example.com.
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