Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has said the owner of a pawn shop who fatally shot a man during the looting and riots in Minneapolis in late May will not be charged.
Freeman said that there is not enough evidence to charge the owner of Cadillac Pawn & Jewelry at 1538 E. Lake Street, not least because by the time officers were able to secure the scene the morning after a night of civil unrest, looters had ransacked the store and stole items including the surveillance camera system.
As well as the disappearance of security footage and despite a 6-month long investigation, Freeman said "only one witness cooperated, numerous other witnesses refused to come forward and a second identified witness to the shooting refused to be interviewed."
As such, there was "insufficient evidence to overcome a self-defense argument in court by the shooter."
Police were only able to secure the scene the morning after the shooting, with Freeman alleging that officers were "physically and verbally assaulted" as they attempted to administer first aid to the 43-year-old Horton, who was found lying on the sidewalk outside.
According to one witness who cooperated, Horton was one of a large group of people that broke into the store, at least one of whom – albeit not Horton – was armed with a handgun.
Horton was killed by a shotgun blast, with seven pellets hitting him in the side and the back.
"That indicates Horton was turned sideways when the gun was fired, but without the video or other witnesses, it is impossible to determine how far apart the two men were and when Horton turned sideways," Freeman's office said.
The one witness who did talk told police that Horton had "moved toward Rieple and was within seven feet when the shot was fired."
A review of police bodycam footage did turn up two other witnesses, one of whom was a close friend of Horton's, and the other a woman who was with her that night.
However, Freeman's office says Horton's friend hired a lawyer and said she wouldn't talk to police, nor identify the woman who was with her.
The pawn shop owner meanwhile "invoked his constitutional rights and declined to speak with investigators."
The Hennepin County Attorney said that in order to overcome a claim of self-defense to prevent great bodily harm or death, "the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense and his actions were unreasonable."
It added that if new evidence came to light, charges could be filed in the future.