A man was reportedly charged Thursday with assaulting a protester who was being escorted out of a rally in North Carolina the previous day for Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
John McGraw, 78, was charged with assault and battery and disorderly conduct stemming from the incident, WRAL reported, citing the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.
Multiple videos posted online showed McGraw allegedly throwing a punch at Rakeem Jones, identified by reports as the victim, as Jones was being escorted out of the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
After Jones was hit, he was thrown to the ground by law-enforcement officials who were escorting him out of the event.
“The police jumped on me like I was the one swinging,” he told The Washington Post. “My eye still hurts. It’s just shocking.”
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office defended the actions of its deputies to The Huffington Post and cautioned against making snap judgments from the short videos.
“Our mission was to make sure all the 14,000 people stay safe, to separate protesters from supporters and to exit them as quickly as possible,” Sgt. Sean Swain told The Huffington Post. “What we did was to de-escalate the situation.”
Here’s a look at the incident as captured by a bystander’s video:
The incident is the latest instance of the mogul’s rallies featuring episodes of violence. Most recently, a Time magazine photographer was thrown to the ground by a Secret Service agent in what the publication called a “chokehold.”
Trump has been criticised for not condemning such violence in the past. Last November, for example, Trump suggested the protester who was reportedly kicked and punched Alabama rally attendees days before “maybe … should have been roughed up” because “it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”
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