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Memphis man charged with pulling pistol on small crowd of protesters

Commercial Appeal Memphis logo Commercial Appeal Memphis 9/26/2020 Micaela A Watts, Memphis Commercial Appeal
a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: A man reportedly aimed a pistol at protester's in Downtown Memphis, after a small group gathered to call for justice in the Breonna Taylor killing by police. © Submitted A man reportedly aimed a pistol at protester's in Downtown Memphis, after a small group gathered to call for justice in the Breonna Taylor killing by police.

A Memphis man is facing multiple felony charges after police said he pulled a 9mm pistol on seven individuals who were passing by his residence in the 400 block of South Main Street earlier this week.

Paul Staples, 39, is facing seven counts of aggravated assault and two counts of tampering with evidence. He is due for his first court appearance on Monday.

a close up of a person: Paul Staples, 39, is facing nine felopny charges after police said he pulled a gun on a small group of protesters walking down Main Street. Staples is also accused of fabricating evidence after he lied to police about which weapon he used. © Shelby County Sheriff's Office Paul Staples, 39, is facing nine felopny charges after police said he pulled a gun on a small group of protesters walking down Main Street. Staples is also accused of fabricating evidence after he lied to police about which weapon he used.

The incident occurred on Wednesday, in the hours after a Kentucky grand jury refused to indict officers in connection with the shooting that killed Louisville EMT Breonna Taylor in March.

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Initial incident: Man pointed gun at protesters in Downtown Memphis, activists say

In response to the lack of indictments, a small group of protesters met near the National Civil Rights Museum. They were walking down Main Street, when Staples began shouting at them from a second-story window, according to Rev. Edith Love, who was present for the demonstration.

Love said after Staples began yelling at the group from his window, insults were exchanged for a few minutes. "And then," Love said, "I heard someone say 'He's back and he's got a gun."

In photos, Staples can be seen pointing a gun from the doorway of his residence. 

According to Memphis-based activist L.J.Abraham, those gathered on Main Street alerted officers nearby, but they declined to take a report.

Eventually, officers at the North Main police station took a report after Abraham called Memphis Police Department Dir. Michael Rallings on his cell phone.

"The police did not want to take a report, they refused at first," Abraham said.

On Thursday, Rallings told media police needed individuals to come forward and give statements. A police report dated late evening on Wednesday includes six statements given to police that evening.

According to the affidavit, "Paul Staples felt in fear and that's why he pointed a gun at protesters." 

The affidavit also states that initially Staples was to present a .22-caliber pellet pistol to investigators. Staples told investigators it was the weapon he pointed at protesters. 

However, the weapon did not match the gun seen in the photograph, the affidavit said. When Staples was asked about the discrepancy, he confessed that it was not the weapon brandished, and instead turned over the weapon used — a 9mm pistol — to investigators. 

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Memphis man charged with pulling pistol on small crowd of protesters

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