LEESBURG, Va. (AP) — A jury found a delivery driver not guilty Thursday of shooting a YouTube prankster who followed him through a mall food court earlier this year.
Alan Colie, 31, was acquitted of aggravated assault charges in the shooting death of 21-year-old Tanner Cook, who runs the YouTube channel Classified Goons.
However, the jury disagreed on two less important firearms-related issues, deciding to convict him on one count and acquit him on the other.
The April 2 shooting at the food court in downtown Dulles, about 45 minutes west of the nation’s capital, sparked panic as shoppers fled feared mass shootings.
Colie pleaded not guilty and said he acted in self-defense.
The verdict came on Thursday after about five hours of deliberations. Three hours later, the jury sent out a notice saying it was “divided as to whether the defendant acted in self-defense.”
Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Snow called the jury back to the courtroom around 3:30 p.m. and told them to continue deliberations, a common admonition to jurors who indicate they are deadlocked.
At the end of the day, the jury announced its verdicts.
Colie’s defense attorney, Adam Pouilliard, said the conviction on the firearms charge was inconsistent with the law because Colie was acquitted on self-defense grounds. He asked the judge to overturn the conviction. A judge will hear arguments on the issue at a hearing next month.
Colie, who has been in custody since his arrest in April, will remain in custody.
Pouilliard said during closing arguments Thursday that his client felt threatened by the 6-foot-11 Cook during the confrontation, which was intended to provoke a reaction and attract viewers to Cook’s YouTube channel.
Cook, Pouilliard said, is “trying to confuse people by posting videos.” He’s not worried about scaring people. He continues to do this.”
Jurors saw video of the shooting, which captures the confrontation between Cook and Colie, which lasts less than 30 seconds. The footage shows Cook approaching Colie while taking a food order. Cook towers over Colie, holding a cellphone about six inches from Colie’s face. The phone sends the phrase “Hey Dips – stop thinking about my sparkle” multiple times through a Google Translate app.
In the video, Colie says “stop” three 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 drawing the weapon and firing the shot.
Prosecutor Eden Holmes said the facts do not support a self-defense argument. The law requires that Colie reasonably fear that he is in imminent danger of bodily harm and that he not use more force than necessary. She said Cook’s prank was bizarre but not threatening.
“They played a silly phrase on the phone,” she said. “How could the defendant determine that he had a reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm?”
The charges of aggravated intentional bodily harm and intentional discharge of a firearm also require the jury to conclude that Colie acted with intent.
If the jury finds that Colie responded to a provocation that reasonably caused fear or anger, there would be no malice under the law.
Colie, who has been in jail since his arrest in April, testified in his own defense that Cook’s prank caused fear. Pouilliard said during closing arguments that Colie was aware of the dangers delivery drivers can face when interacting with the public and that he had a license to carry a concealed weapon.
Cook’s “Classified Goons” channel, which has more than 50,000 subscribers, is full of disgusting stunts, like pretending to vomit on Uber drivers and following unsuspecting customers around department stores. At a preliminary hearingSheriff’s deputies said they knew Cook well and had received calls about previous stunts.
Cook said he continues to make videos that earn him $2,000 to $3,000 a month.