The Associated Press//September 28, 2023
The Associated Press//September 28, 2023//
Defense attorneys argued Sept. 28 that their client was acting in self defense when he shot a YouTube prankster who followed him around a mall food court earlier this year.
The jury began deliberations in the trial of Alan Colie, 31, a DoorDash driver charged with aggravated malicious wounding and firearms counts in the shooting of Tanner Cook, 21, who runs the “Classified Goons” YouTube channel.
The April 2 shooting at the food court in Dulles Town Center, about 45 minutes west of the nation’s capital, set off panic as shoppers fled what they feared to be a mass shooting.
Colie’s defense attorney, Adam Pouilliard, said during the closing arguments that his client felt menaced by the 6-foot-5 (1.95-meter-tall) Cook during the confrontation, which was designed to provoke a reaction that draws viewers to Cook’s YouTube channel.
Cook, Pouilliard said, “is trying to confuse people to post videos. He’s not worried that he’s scaring people. He keeps doing this.”
Jurors saw video of the shooting, which captures the confrontation between Cook and Colie lasting less than 30 seconds. Tee footage shows Cook approaching Colie as he picks up a food order. Cook looms over Colie while holding a cellphone about 6 inches (15 centimeters) from Colie’s face. The phone broadcasts the phrase “Hey dips—, quit thinking about my twinkle” multiple times through a Google Translate app.
In the video, Colie says “stop” three different times and tries to back away from Cook, who continues to advance. Colie tries to knock the phone away from his face before pulling out a gun and shooting Cook in the lower left chest. There is no pause between the moment he draws the weapon and fires the shot.
Prosecutor Eden Holmes said the facts don’t support a self-defense argument. The law requires that Colie reasonably fear that he was in imminent danger of bodily harm, and that he use no more force than is necessary. She said Cook’s prank was bizarre but not threatening.
“They were playing a silly phrase on a phone,” she said. “How could the defendant have found that he was reasonably in fear of imminent bodily harm?”
The charges of aggravated malicious wounding and malicious discharge of a firearm also require the jury to find that Colie acted with malice.
If the jury finds that Colie was responding to a provocation that reasonably arouses fear or anger, then there is no malice under the law.
Colie testified in his own defense about the fear that Cook’s prank elicited. Pouilliard said during closing arguments that Colie is aware of the dangers that delivery drivers can face as they interact with the public and that he has a license to carry a concealed weapon.
Cook’s “Classified Goons” channel, which has more than 50,000 subscribers, is replete with off-putting stunts, like pretending to vomit on Uber drivers and following unsuspecting customers through department stores. At a preliminary hearing, sheriff’s deputies testified that they were well aware of Cook and have received calls about previous stunts.
Cook said he continues to make the videos, from which he earns $2,000 to $3,000 a month.