Prosecutor drops rioting charges against Castile's cousin Louis Hunter


The night before Louis Hunter was arrested for felony rioting, police had a hard time picking violent protesters apart from nonviolent ones. Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

More than a year ago, 38-year-old Louis Hunter was arrested by St. Paul Police and charged with two counts of felony riot. He was accused of throwing Molotov cocktails, rocks, and construction debris at officers during a turbulent I-94 protest over Philando Castile's death.

Although many other people were arrested throughout a year of protests, only Hunter was charged with felony riot.

Hunter has asserted his innocence since the beginning, turning down an offer in May to plead guilty to a gross misdemeanor instead of the two felonies, which threatened a maximum sentence of 10 years.

On Tuesday, the Carver County Attorney's Office -- which was called in by Ramsey County to avoid any conflict of interest -- announced that all charges have been dismissed due to lack of evidence.

The attorney's office looked at 60 hours of video, more than 100 police reports, and met with officers assigned to the protest. Although Hunter makes an appearance in one video wearing his easily identifiable white pants and red shirt, gesturing and yelling at the police, there was no video evidence that he ever brandished a weapon.

Instead, his case relied solely on the eyewitness testimony of stressed out officers trying to dodge rocks and glass. That stress led to inconsistencies in the officers' reports that likely wouldn't convince a jury, according to the attorney's office.

For instance, there were other protesters that night who wore red shirts and white shorts, and officers admittedly missed on occasion when they fired marking rounds at individuals they meant to arrest later.


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