No charges for police who killed Molotov-throwing man

A North Carolina prosecutor says police officers won't face charges for fatally shooting a man who threw Molotov cocktails and set cars on fire near a police station in May

ByThe Associated Press
October 10, 2022, 5:46 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina police officers who shot and killed a man throwing Molotov cocktails and setting cars on fire near a police station in May won’t face charges, prosecutors announced Monday.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman’s office released the results of an investigation into the officers’ use of force. Citing an imminent risk to officers and the public, Freeman's report said “the fatal use of force was not unlawful and that therefore, there is no legal basis for pursuing a criminal prosecution,” news outlets reported.

Reuel Rodriguez-Nuñez, 37, was recorded on video tossing cups filled with a flammable substance at police officers and their vehicles on May 7 in a parking lot next to a district police station in Raleigh, North Carolina. His family said he was having a mental health crisis.

In body camera footage released by police in June, an officer sprints into the parking lot and apparently goads on Rodriguez-Nuñez, who is standing beside several smoldering vehicles. At least three other officers stand farther away.

Master Officer P.W. Coates repeatedly swears and shouts “Do it! Do it!” at Rodriguez-Nuñez, as another officer tells him to put his hands on his head. Coates approaches Rodriguez-Nuñez within the length of a parking space and tells his colleagues, “Give me the go ahead.” At that point, Rodriguez-Nuñez throws a Molotov cocktail at Coates and the four officers open fire.

“Despite what may be unprofessional conduct by one of the officers, there is no ground to move forward with criminal prosecution,” Freeman said. “I would expect the department to look at this from a standpoint of policy violation and determination if disciplinary action is appropriate.”

Rodriguez-Nunez’s family has called for changes to police policy and said officers failed to handle the situation as a mental health crisis.

“This did not have to end like this,” Jasiel Rodriguez-Nuñez said. “My brother ... was just sending a message of his mental illness. It was a way of speaking out in his mind. He was having a breakdown.”

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