WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) - A North Carolina sheriff’s office said on Monday it would not charge Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump or his campaign with “inciting a riot” at a rally in the state last week.
North Carolina is one of five states holding Republican and Democratic primary elections on Tuesday in the race to select candidates for November’s U.S. presidential election.
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, based in Fayetteville, earlier had said it was reviewing whether Trump or his campaign incited a disturbance at a rally last Wednesday.
At the rally in Fayettsville, John McGraw, a 78-year-old white Trump supporter, was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge after he was seen on video punching a 26-year-old black protester in the face.
On Monday evening, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement it would not seek a warrant or indictment for Trump or his campaign over the incident.
“The Sheriff’s Office legal counsel advised, and the Sheriff concurred, that the evidence does not meet the requisites of the law as established under the relevant North Carolina statute and case law to support a conviction of the crime of inciting a riot,” the office said.
In North Carolina, “inciting to riot” is a legal charge that can apply to a public disturbance and does not necessarily involve a full-scale riot. The offense can be classified as a misdemeanor or a more serious felony.
During a trip on Monday to North Carolina, Trump rejected suggestions that his language was to blame for recent clashes at his rallies. The 69-year-old New Yorker leads a field of four Republican candidates vying for the party’s presidential nomination.
Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Additional reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Leslie Adler