Did North Carolina police detain the wrong guy at a tumultuous Trump rally?
While most eyes were watching an ugly altercation between an elderly Donald Trump supporter and a young protester at a North Carolina rally last week, some took exception to what occurred immediately after the incident.
The now infamous scene shows John Franklin McGraw, 78, sucker-punching a protester who was being escorted from the rally. The wrangle gained national media attention, with some Trump supporters declaring that the protester, Rakeem Jones, had it coming by agitating rally goers and giving them the middle finger.
But the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t exactly see it that way.
Five officers who responded to the incident have been disciplined for not taking appropriate action, WRAL reported.
“The actions of the deputies and their failures to act in situations such as that which occurred during the Trump rally at the Crown Coliseum have never been and will never be tolerated under the policies of this office,” Sheriff Earl Butler said in a statement.
The deputies face disciplinary action for “unsatisfactory performance and failing to discharge the duties and policies of the office of the sheriff.” Video footage shows several officers detaining Jones while McGraw reportedly went back to his seat.
As a result, three officers were demoted and suspended without pay for five days. Two others were suspended without pay for three days, and all five face one year probation, according to WRAL.
Butler noted several of the officer’s stellar records while doling out the punishment.
“I have taken into account the past bravery and exemplary conduct, including the life-saving and other actions of these deputies in assessing the discipline, and in imposing the sanctions,” he said. “We regret that any of the circumstances at the Trump rally occurred, and we regret that we have had to investigate all of these matters.”
McGraw was eventually charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct for the sucker punch. He also faces charges for incendiary comments he made about Jones following the rally.
Jones told WRAL he applauds “the sheriff’s department for their work and finding the deputies responsible.”
After Cumberland police initially floated the idea of charging Trump with “inciting violence,” the Trump campaign offered this response in a statement:
“The arena was rented for a private event, paid for by the campaign and these people attended with the intent to cause trouble. They were only there to agitate and anger the crowd. It is the protesters and agitators who are in violation, not Mr. Trump or the campaign.”
The following video shows the incident:
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