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The federal lawsuit claims lax policing, prosecution of political protest violence contributed to Aaron 'Jay' Danielson's death.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS - Michael Reinoehl (left) and Aaron DanielsonThe family of a Trump and Patriot Prayer supporter who was shot and killed in downtown Portland in the wake of a political confrontation filed a federal lawsuit against the city, Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt on Friday, Sept. 10.

Aaron "Jay" Danielson had come downtown with a pro-Trump car and truck caravan on Aug. 29, 2020. It was met by counter-protesters, including Michael Forest Reinoehl, a self-described antifa supporter providing security for the counter-protesters. After most of the caravan had left town, Danielson was walking with another participant when Reinoehl stepped out of a parking garage alcove and shot him in the chest. Danielson died at the scene.

The lawsuit states that Danielson's death was "preventable" and blames city officials for a "hands-off approach" to its policing strategy that encouraged violence during political confrontations. It said this fostered a "culture of vigilante policing."

Christopher Cauble, the attorney for Danielson's estate, said: "We are seeking justice for the preventable death of a young man, gunned down in a city with a dangerous and deadly hands-off approach to public safety," in a written statement published by The Oregonian/OregonLive. "Time and time again, City leadership and law enforcement have failed to find an effective response to clashing groups of protesters."

The lawsuit alleges that the Portland Police Bureau's Rapid Response Team, responsible for crowd control during protests and riots, was less than two blocks away from the shooting. The team was given orders to not get involved between dueling demonstrators, the lawsuit claims.

The suit also said Schmidt contributed to the situation by adopting a new policy to not pursue what he considered "public order crimes such as criminal mischief, interfering with an officer or a stand-alone riot charge, and instead would focus on deliberate property damage and threats of force or actual force against others."

"Given the enormity of the press coverage over the past several years regarding clashes between left- and right-leaning protest groups in the downtown core of Portland, Defendants knew or should have known that violent clashes would occur," Cauble wrote in the court filings.

The family seeks a total of $13 million in damages, including $1.5 million in economic damage, $1.5 million in non-economic damages and up to $10 million in punitive damages.

Reinoehl was shot and killed by a federally-deputized fugitive task force outside an apartment complex in Lacey, Wash., on Sept. 3, 2020. He had been charged with murder for killing Danielson. Task force members and eye witnesses disagreed over whether Reinoehl was visibly armed when he was killed. The Thurston County Sheriff's Office concluded he "initiated" an exchange of gunfire with officers after a seven-month investigation.

A previous Portland Tribune story about Danielson and Reinoehl can be found here.


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