On Monday, the Washington Post reported that the Cumberland County, North Carolina, Sheriff’s Office will not charge GOP front-runner Donald Trump with inciting a riot. The investigating sheriff’s office said Monday night the decision was made after reviewing evidence from the rally in which a protester was punched in the face.
The office said the evidence “does not meet the requisites of the law” to “support a conviction.” A statement from the sheriff’s office said that “…we will not be seeking a warrant or indictment against Mr. Trump or his campaign for these offenses.” According to WRAL reporter Gilbert Baez, investigators went over Trump’s speech “with a fine-tooth comb.”
“While other aspects of our investigation are continuing, the investigation with regard to Mr. Trump and his campaign has been concluded, and no charges are anticipated.” Earlier in the day, Ronnie Mitchell, the top attorney for the sheriff’s office, said investigators were looking into the situation to determine if there was conduct on Trump’s part that could possibly warrant charges.
The investigation stemmed from an incident in Fayetteville in which a protester was struck in the face as he was being led out of the event. The man who allegedly threw the punch, 78-year-old John Franklin McGraw, was later arrested for the incident, WRAL reported. Mitchell said investigators were concerned about comments made by Trump at the time.
“People are responsible for what they do and what they say. Part of our investigation has been looking into those issues,” he said. “We are concerned about a number of things in that speech. We are concerned about activity associated with that speech. That does not mean that we have decided to charge anyone.” According to Mitchell, deputies examined some 100 instances from the March 9 rally.
North Carolina law defines a riot as “a public disturbance involving an assemblage of three or more persons which by disorderly and violent conduct, or the imminent threat of disorderly and violent conduct, results in injury or damage to persons or property or creates a clear and present danger of injury or damage to persons or property.” The charge is a misdemeanor unless property damages exceed $1,500. At that point, the charge becomes a felony.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks described the Fayetteville event as warm and family-friendly. She acknowledged the disruptions, the Post added, and described some of the protesters’ actions.
“In some cases, they used foul language, screamed vulgarities and made obscene gestures, annoying the very well-behaved audience. The people that stood were loud, rude and abrasive,” she said. “On one occasion, while the police were escorting a young man out of the arena, he seemed to lift his hand and make an obscene gesture. We are told a 78-year-old man took great exception to this.”
On Sunday, Trump said he was looking into paying McGraw’s legal fees. “I’m going to look at it. I’m going to see, you know, what was behind this, because it was a strange event,” he said. “But from what I heard, there was a lot of taunting and a certain finger was placed in the air. Not nice.”