In July, The Root reported that 43-year-old Calvin Horton Jr. was allegedly shot and killed by a Minneapolis pawnshop owner during civil unrest two days after the killing of George Floyd. As Horton’s family and their attorney, Ben Crump, took part in demonstrations demanding justice for Horton, police officials asked the public to come forward with information on the shooting as investigators were unable to find surveillance footage of the shooting and only had one cooperating witness. Sadly, prosecutors announced Monday that no charges will be filed against the alleged shooter, John Rieple, because no additional witnesses came forward and any surveillance cameras that may have captured the shooting had been destroyed during the unrest.
Let’s start with what we reported in July:
Investigators say they haven’t been able to find any surveillance video of the shooting and only have one witness who saw part of the incident.
The family, however, said they have seen a Facebook video that shows Horton was receiving first aid by paramedics in front of the pawnshop before he was shot and that it proves Rieple wasn’t protecting his store from an attack when he started firing into a crowd of protesters—which they said he did from inside the store, Fox 9 reports.
“He shot out into a crowd of dozens of people, and we know bullets don’t have a name on it. That bullet could have hit anybody,” Crump said.
The family also said the video, as well as their viewing of Horton’s body, shows he was shot in the back, not in the chest, as the Hennepin County Medical Examiner reported.
At the time, the medical examiner’s office said they could not comment on the family’s claim that Horton was shot in the back, and the Minneapolis Police Department said they couldn’t confirm if Horton was inside or outside of the store when he was shot as the investigation was still ongoing. Unfortunately, there was never much progress made in investigating the shooting, and officials appear to suggest that protesters are at fault.
The Associated Press reports that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office confirmed that after a six-month investigation, there simply wasn’t enough evidence to disprove Rieple’s claim that he acted out of self-defense.
Freeman’s office said police responded to the pawn shop at dusk to find Horton on the sidewalk. Officers began trying to help him, but they were physically and verbally assaulted, so they moved him to a nearby business. Prosecutors said paramedics arrived to a chaotic scene and couldn’t reach Horton, so police carried him to an ambulance.
Officers arrested the pawn shop owner but left before processing the scene because they were being threatened, prosecutors said. As a result, police never recovered a firearm. And by the time police returned the next morning, the pawn shop had been ransacked. Prosecutors said everything in the shop was gone, including security cameras and equipment that would have recorded the shooting.
The one witness who cooperated with authorities said that Horton was with a group of people that entered the store and that at least one member of the group had a handgun. The witness didn’t report seeing Horton armed but said he was about 7 feet away from the shop owner when he was shot.
Freeman’s office said that if any additional evidence surfaces, prosecutors can reconsider potential charges.