- In a statement on Wednesday, an eyewitness to the killing of Michael Reinoehl claimed that police opened fire before issuing any commands.
- "Officers shot multiple rapid-fire shots at Reinoehl before issuing a brief 'stop' command, quickly followed by more rapid-fire shooting by additional officers," he said.
- Reinoehl, who was suspected of killing a far-right activist in Portland, Oregon, was killed Sept. 3.
- Eyewitness testimony has been inconsistent. Other bystanders have claimed that Reinoehl fired his weapon, with two bystanders claiming he had an assault rifle.
- Police claim Reinoehl was shot after pulling a weapon and that they recovered a handgun at the scene.
- In his statement, Nathaniel Dingess said the deceased was only holding a cellphone.
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An eyewitness to the killing of Michael Forest Reinoehl claims police opened fire on the murder suspect outside his apartment complex before issuing any command — and that the deceased was holding a cellphone, not a gun.
Reinoehl, a self-styled "anti-fascist," was suspected of killing an armed member of a far-right extremist group, Patriot Prayer, last month near a protest in Portland, Oregon.
In an interview published by Vice News hours before his death, Reinoehl claimed to have acted in self-defense. But prosecutors rejected that argument, issuing a warrant for his arrest on suspicion of second-degree murder.
Reinoehl was killed on Sept. 3 after a law enforcement task force led by the US Marshalls descended on his hideout in Lacey, Washington. Police have claimed Reinoehl was shot after pulling a gun as law enforcement agents attempted to detain him.
But one eyewitness, Nathaniel Dingess, an ordained minister, said Wednesday that Reinoehl neither fired a shot nor possessed a gun at all, The Oregonian reported.
In a statement issued by his lawyer, Dingess claimed that Reinoehl was walking to his car, holding a cellphone, when officers pulled up in two unmarked vehicles and began opening fire before issuing any commands.
"Officers shot multiple rapid-fire shots at Reinoehl before issuing a brief 'stop' command, quickly followed by more rapid-fire shooting by additional officers," he said.
Eyewitness testimony has been inconsistent, however, contradicting both Dingess' statement and assertions by police. One witness told The Olympian that Reinoehl "did open fire first," while two others said they saw him fire what they described as an assault rifle.
Police, however, have said they recovered a handgun, not a rifle, and are still investigating whether any of the 30 to 50 shots heard by witnesses were fired by the suspect.
Reinoehl died at the scene.
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