Cumberland Co. Sheriff’s Office won’t charge Trump or campaign in incident

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A North Carolina sheriff’s office said Monday it will not charge Donald Trump or his campaign with inciting a riot at last Wednesday’s campaign rally in Fayetteville during which a Trump supporter punched another man.

John McGraw, 78, of Linden, is charged with assault and battery, disorderly conduct and communicating threats for his involvement.

John McGraw
John McGraw

Rakeem Jones was punched by McGraw as he was being escorted out by police.

In a release earlier Monday, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said, “We are continuing to look at the totality of these circumstances, including any additional charges against Mr. McGraw, including the potential of whether there was conduct on the part of Mr. Trump or the Trump campaign which rose to the level of inciting a riot, and including the actions or inactions of our deputies.”

In response, Trump’s campaign released a statement that read, in part, “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 protestors and agitators who are in violation, not Mr. Trump or the campaign.”

Early Monday evening, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said investigators had “reviewed the evidence accumulated and consulted with the detectives involved” and would not be filing any additional charges.

“The Sheriff’s Office legal counsel advised, and the sheriff concurred, that the evidence does not meet the requisites of the law as established under the relevant North Carolina statute and case law to support a conviction of the crime of inciting a riot,” a statement read.

Trump competes in the critical North Carolina primaries Tuesday. He leads the Republican field for the presidential nomination and is looking to increase on his lead following Super Tuesday.

Rakeem Jones
Rakeem Jones was punched at a Donald Trump rally in Fayetteville on March 9, 2016.

But his rallies have become increasingly dramatic. In an interview last week, Jones told CBS North Carolina it was most upsetting that Trump, as he was leaving, said “Go home to mom!” Jones’ mother died eight years ago.

“I get real offended by that, even with regular people,” he said.

At the end of video of the incident posted on Twitter, Jones is shown being tackled to the ground.

Sgt. Sean Swain of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office told CBS North Carolina there was “a miscommunication at the top of the stairs.” He said Jones tripped but a deputy thought he had assaulted an officer.

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