A counter-protester who pulled a gun during an altercation at a Black Lives Matter protest in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday evening “was lawfully defending himself” and will not face criminal charges, according to the police department.
The Tallahassee Police Department made the announcement Sunday after reviewing a video from the incident from several sources and other evidence with the State Attorney’s Office.
About 150 Black Lives Matter protesters gathered in front of the Florida Historic Capitol Saturday and blocked traffic by Monroe Street and Apalachee Parkway, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. The protest was organized with “no advance notice to or coordination with TPD to ensure safety,” the police department said in a statement.
“During the protest, a white male entered the crowd and began documenting the protest. That individual was pushed from behind by a white protester, which led to a physical altercation between the individual and several other white males,” Tallahassee Police said. “During the altercation, the individual was knocked to the ground. He got back to his feet and brandished a gun. TPD officers quickly engaged, took the individual into custody, and peacefully dispersed the crowd. There were no reported injuries.
“The evidence confirmed the physical altercation between numerous protestors and that the individual was knocked to the ground and under attack before lawfully defending himself,” the department said, adding that they confirmed that the individual with the gun “was lawfully carrying a concealed weapon as a license holder.”
Police officers at the scene intervened before the altercation escalated. No assault charges have been applied to any of the individuals involved in the fight or the individual with the gun.
It’s unclear what prompted the brawl, but protesters at the scene told the Tallahassee Democrat that the individual who later brandished a gun was a counter-protester and had begun arguing with protesters and taking pictures of their license plates.
One viral cell phone video of the incident showed a crowd of protesters surrounding the individual. A fist-fight then breaks out, and the woman holding the camera in the scuffle screams, “He’s got a gun,” as others run.
The video then shows the individual pointing his gun at a protester who drops to his knees with his hands up. Police officers with their own guns drawn charge at the armed man and tell him to drop his gun before handcuffing him on the ground.