By Sheryl Estrada
UPDATE: 6:43 am EST, March 18, 2016
Cops Who Ignored Suspect Suspended, Demoted
Cumberland County, North Carolina Sheriff Earl Butler announced in a Facebook post the five deputies who removed Rakeem Jones from a Donald Trump rally in Fayetteville on March 9 have been disciplined.
“Three deputies were demoted in rank, and they were suspended for a period of five days each without pay for unsatisfactory performance and failing to discharge the duties and policies of the Office of Sheriff,” Butler wrote on Wednesday.
Two other deputies were suspended for three days without pay, and all five were put on probation for 12 months.
Butler launched a professional standards investigation after a video showed John Franklin McGraw punching Jones in the face during his exit. Officials said the deputies had their eyes on the stairs when Jones was hit. Though in thevideo, what appears to be a senior ranking officer is looking directly at the incident. Another video also showsthat deputies pulled Jones to the ground and restrained him after McGraw assaulted him.
Police remove Rakeem Jones after he was punched in the face by Donald Trump supporter John McGraw at a rally in North Carolina.
Keeping true to an offer to defend his violent supporters in court, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump may assist with John Franklin McGraw’s legal fees.
The 78-year-old white man from Linden, North Carolina, has been charged with assault for sucker-punching a Black man, Rakeem Jones,in the face during a Trump rally Wednesday.
On NBC’s“Meet the Press,”which aired Sunday morning, Trump was asked by host Chuck Todd if it’s possible he could help McGraw with legal fees.
Trumpbegan by blamingJones. “He was very loud and very disruptive,” he said. “And from what I understand, he was sticking a certain finger up in the air, and that is a terrible thing to do ”
Trump then defended McGraw. “He obviously loves his country,” he said. “And maybe he doesn’t like seeing what’s happening to the country. I want to see the full tape. But I don’t condone violence.”
Todd pressed for an answer: “So you might pay [McGraw’s] legal fees”
“I’ve actually instructed my people to look into it, yes,” Trump said.
When a protester interrupted the GOP front-runner during a rally in Warren, Michigan, on March 4, Trump said, “Get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do I’ll defend you in court. Don’t worry about it.”
McGraw was charged after he was caught on video hitting Jones, 26, while local deputies were escorting him out of a rally at Crown Coliseumin Fayetteville, North Carolina. McGraw’s bond was set at $2500. His next court date is April 6.
Cell phone video of McGraw punching Jones:
In an interview with Roland Martin ofNewsOneNow, Jones saidhe attended the rally as a spectator forpart of a social experiment, not as a protester. He said that after ayoung lady who was in his group calledTrumpdisgusting oneof his supportersexchanged words with her and “then as a result, all of this ensued.”
RonnieRouse, Jones’ friend who was present at the time of the incident,said he expected officers to remove the belligerent man, who was arguing with the young lady,from the rally.
“Instead, sheriff’s deputies approached the group of African-Americans and requested they leave,” wrote NewsOne Now. “Rouse [said]their group of four, along with another gentleman who happened to be a reporter for The Washington Post, was escorted out of the event.”
“I was not expecting it at all. It just happened,” Jones said regarding McGraw’s punch.
Cell phone video of Jones beingpulled to the ground and restrained by police after he was punched by McGraw:
“Inside Edition” had a candid interview with McGraw following the incident.
When asked if he liked the rallyhe said, “You bet I liked it. Knocking the hell out of that big mouth.”
He explained why he punched Jones: “Number one, we don’t know if he’s ISIS. We don’t know who he is, but we know he’s not acting like an American, cussing me … If he wants it laid out, I laid it out.”
And he added that next time things would be worse for Jones: “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don’t know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization.”
McGraw was not arrested at the scene, but on Thursday morning.
In aFacebook postpublished Thursday, Cumberland County Sheriff Earl Butler attempted to explain why Jones’ assault wasn’t prevented.
“Deputies who were escorting Jones were looking down to secure their steps so as not to fall as they followed Jones up the stairway toward the exit, and while the deputies (sic) eyes were cast in the direction of the steps, McGraw punched the victim,” he wrote.
However, in the video, what appears to be a senior ranking officer is looking directlyat the incident.
Apparently, the steps got in the way. An internal investigation into the actions of the deputies is taking place. As “it involves a personnel matter, no further public comment on the internal investigation can be made under North Carolina law,” said Butler.
Meanwhile, Army veteran Alvin Bamberger, one of Trump’s supporters caught on video shoving around young Black protester Shiya Nwanguma at a rally in Louisville, Kentucky, on Super Tuesday, wrote an apology letter to the Korean War Veterans Association.
“I physically pushed a young woman down the aisle toward the exit, an action I sincerely regret,” Bamberger said in a letter to Larry Kinard, president of the Korean War Veterans Association.
“I have embarrassed myself, my family, and veterans,” he wrote. “This was a very unfortunate incident and it is my sincere hope that I can be forgiven for my actions.”
According toMilitary.com, Bamberger said he “was caught up in the frenzy” of being surrounded by Trump supporters, including those he said were white supremacists, and of hearing the presidential candidate himself shout, “Get them out! Get them out!”