A jury acquitted a delivery driver in the shooting of a YouTuber who calls his channel “Classified Goons.”
The case gained widespread attention not because of a shooting but because the YouTuber in question was a prankster with a large following.
Currently, the YouTuber has about 50k fans and makes $2k to $3k monthly from his videos, which he calls pranks or “comedy content.”
In his “pranks,” he pretends to puke on Uber drivers and stalks unsuspecting shoppers through department stores. Deputies from the sheriff’s office said they knew Cook and had gotten calls about his other stunts.
Alan Colie, 31, a DoorDash driver, was picking up an order in a food court of a Virginia mall. Tanner Cook, a 21-year-old YouTuber, leaps in front of Colie’s and shoves a phone in his face. Cook’s phone is constantly playing “Hey dips**t, quit thinking about my twinkle” via a Google Translate app. Two people were following the driver, and a third was recording it.
Colie’s defense attorney, Adam Pouilliard, said that Colie was concerned about the threats that delivery drivers confront when interacting with the public and that Colie has a concealed carry license. Colie is still in jail and is scheduled to appear in court on October 19.
They arrested the driver in April and charged him with aggravated malicious wounding, felony use of a firearm, and discharging a handgun within a building.
The jury had to determine that Colie acted maliciously to find him guilty of aggravated malicious wounding and malicious discharge of a firearm.
If the jury decided Colie was reacting to something that would make a reasonable person afraid or angry, then there was no malice according to the law.
Prosecutor Eden Holmes says the facts do not support a self-defense claim. According to the law, Colie must have a reasonable fear of bodily harm and use no more force than is necessary. According to the prosecutor, the YouTuber’s prank was bizarre but not threatening.
The prosecutor said the contact between the two men lasted only approximately 20 seconds. The prosecutor tried to cast doubt on his testimony through her line of questioning.
“In those 20 seconds, you felt the only option was to take out your gun?” Holmes asked.
“Those were my thoughts,” Colie replied.
The defense of disparity of force
During Thursday’s final arguments, the driver’s lawyer said that his client felt threatened by the 6-foot-5 YouTuber during the confrontation, which was set up to provoke a reaction and get more people to watch the YouTuber’s videos.
His attorney claims that the shooting in the food court was self-defense, and after hearing about other delivery workers being robbed, he carried a gun to protect himself.
It showed the incident between the driver and the YouTuber to the jury. In the video, Cook goes up to Colie as he picks up a food order. The YouTuber is considerably bigger than Colie, holding his mobile phone within a few inches of the delivery driver’s face. The phone repeatedly plays the message “Hey dipsh*t, quit thinking about my twinkle” using a Google Translate app.
Cook didn’t stop and, along with the second guy, continued moving towards Colie even though he was trying to get away. Colie repeatedly told them to “stop” and said he would call the police as he shoved the phone back. Colie tries to knock the phone out of Cook’s hand before pulling out a gun and shooting Cook in the lower left chest.
Colie said he felt confused by the phrase Cook was playing and told the jury the two looked “really cold and angry.”
“In my mind, I registered that he was a threat to me, and he was going to harm me,” Colie told the jury. “I saw his left hand down in his left pocket. I didn’t know if he was concealing a weapon. For my safety, I took out the gun from my right pocket and shot him in the stomach. At that time, I was fearful that my life was in danger.”
His attorneys asked why he didn’t try to fight Cook or run away. Colie explained he felt surprised and scared, and he didn’t think he could escape or fight back against Cook. Additionally, he wasn’t certain if Cook was armed.
The defense attorney had Brian O’Donnell, a threat assessment and de-escalation expert, testify. He explained how the size of an individual and how close they are, along with no way to escape, someone could be considered a threat.
He talked about how someone’s reasoning skills and problem-solving capabilities are affected by stress.
Using O’Donnell’s testimony, the defense tried to show that the defendant’s stress affected his perceptions and his “ability to see alternative courses of action in the moment.”
The defense attorney said the YouTuber “is trying to confuse people to post videos. He’s not worried that he’s scaring people. He keeps doing this.”
Deliberation and verdict
After deliberating for about three hours during the trial, the jury sent a note to the judge. The jury’s message said it is “divided in terms of whether the defendant acted in self-defense.”
The jury found Alan Colie not guilty of aggravated malicious wounding or the use of a firearm for aggravated malicious wounding. However, they did find him guilty of firing a gun inside the mall. They set aside the guilty verdict until a hearing to discuss it on October 19.
The YouTuber plans to continue making his prank videos.