Mistrial in MN Shooting Case Where Bumper Sticker Used for Probable Cause

Alexander Weiss

Alexander Weiss walks out of the Olmsted County Government Center after the second day of trial Wednesday in Rochester. Andrew Link / alink@postbulletin.com

By Dean Weingarten  |   Ammoland

In January, 2018, 25-year-old Alexander Weiss shot 17-year-old Muhammed Rahim in a claimed act of self-defense. Muhammed died. The case captured the attention of people in the gun culture because the prosecutor used the fact that Weiss’ car had a political bumper sticker on it as probable cause to indict Weiss. The bumper sticker made a statement about gun control. I wrote about the case in 2018.

The sticker said: GUN CONTROL IS HITTING YOUR TARGET.

Weiss was threatened by two 17-year-old young men who were accompanied by two teenage girls.

The surviving male said he and Muhammed had not touched Weiss before the shot was fired. Weiss stated that Muhammed had tried to get the pistol from him and that Muhammed pushed him during the confrontation.

Weiss had a concealed carry permit. Weiss immediately called 911 after the shooting.

Sixteen months later, after a jury trial, a mistrial was declared. The jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. From krocnews.com:

A mistrial has been declared in the Alexander Weiss murder trial.

Olmsted County Judge Joseph Chase made the determination after the jury in the case resumed deliberations after reporting they were at an impasse in the mid-afternoon following about 10 hours of deliberations. The apparent hung jury declaration came about two hours later.

The jurors began their deliberations Monday evening following the presentation of closing arguments over the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Mohammed Rahim by the 26-year-old Weiss in January of last year. The shooting occurred during a confrontation that erupted after a minor traffic crash and resulted in a second-degree murder charge against Weiss, who claimed the shooting was an act of self-defense.

I have not seen what the jury saw. The car driven by Muhammed had gone out of control and had a low-level crash into a curb.  Weiss originally stopped to see if the people in the other car needed assistance. Then his car had was hit by the car driven by Muhammed when Muhammed backed up. Video evidence showed the car driven by Muhammed backing up and hitting Weiss’ car. From postbulletin.com:

In the video, Rahim’s vehicle can be seen traveling down East River Road Northeast, turning and hitting the curb. Weiss’ car arrives, stops at the stop sign and is backed into by the Cavalier before the Cavalier moves to the parking lot driveway.

There was a confrontation.  The two young men threatened Weiss. Some of the passengers in the car driven by Rahim said they had taken Xanax before the drive.

In testimony before the jury, Weiss said he had no choice but to shoot in self-defense. From kimt.com:

Weiss, the defendant in the second-degree murder trial, told jurors that he had no choice but to fire a gun.

Weiss testified that he was on his way to officiate a basketball game Jan. 14, 2018, when the victim’s vehicle came around a corner and hit Weiss’ vehicle.

Weiss claims the first person who got out of the vehicle, a witness to the shooting, was acting weird and became very aggressive.

After saying he was going to call police, Weiss said the man became enraged and threatened to beat him up and kill him.

At that point, Weiss said he went back to his vehicle to grab his phone and his gun, a 9mm.

Weiss testified that he told the witness that he had a gun and that person retreated. Then, Ramin got out of the vehicle and became aggressive, Weiss said. Weiss said at that point he was fearful of getting jumped and killed.

Minnesota is one of the states that have a duty to retreat. This means a potential victim is required to retreat from a situation if they can do so safely before they are justified in using deadly force in self-defense.

Using a gun in self-defense is a life-changing event.

It may be many more months before the case is resolved.  Weiss’ Church members support him and say he has been a popular volunteer.  The 17-year-old, Muhammad Rahim, shot by Weiss, was an immigrant from Iraq who came to Minnesota with his family six years before the shooting.

The prosecution in Olmsted County has said they intend to have another trial of Weiss in the case.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation

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