YouTube personality Jake Paul was outside the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall in Arizona in May when what police described as a riot broke out.
Scottsdale police announced that Paul participated in the unrest and would be charged with criminal trespass and unlawful assembly.
But on Wednesday, officials said those charges would be dropped because of a federal investigation into the incident. By then, SWAT officers and the FBI were serving search warrants at Paul’s Calabasas mansion.
The exact nature of the federal probe remains unclear.
“The Scottsdale Police Department and Scottsdale city attorney’s office are coordinating with the United States attorney’s office for the District of Arizona and the FBI to ensure that justice is served regarding criminal acts at Scottsdale Fashion Square on May 30, 2020,” the department said in a statement. “It is in the best interest of the community to dismiss misdemeanor charges without prejudice so that a federal criminal investigation can be completed. Scottsdale retains the option to refile charges depending on the outcome of the federal investigation,”
Police determined that “Paul was present after the protest was declared an unlawful assembly and the rioters were urged to leave the area,” and said he entered and remained inside the mall when it was closed.
Paul has denied any wrongdoing and said he was merely trying to find people protesting the death of George Floyd.
In a June social media post, Paul said he and his friends found people engaged in looting and property damage that included shattered windows of offices and stores. He said he didn’t participate in that activity, according to a report in the Associated Press.
“That’s the way it looked on camera. However, that isn’t the case,” he said.
Paul said he kept walking in the mall area despite encountering the criminal activity because he wanted to find the protest.
He said it was upsetting that social media posts had accused him of vandalism.
“I’m above that,” he said. “I don’t need to vandalize. I don’t need to loot, and I know it’s not the way forward.”
Sources on Wednesday confirmed to The Times that the FBI warrants were tied to the mall incident and that warrants were also served in Nevada and Arizona.
“The FBI is executing a federal search warrant at a residence in Calabasas in connection with an ongoing investigation. The affidavit in support of the search warrant has been sealed by a judge and I am, therefore, prohibited from commenting as to the nature of the investigation. No arrests are planned,” an FBI representative said in a statement.
Sources said multiple firearms were found on the Calabasas property. Video showed Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies carrying at least five long guns to a cruiser parked in front of the mansion and securing the weapons inside the vehicle.
After the initial search, federal agents left Paul’s home in a procession of vehicles, including an armored SWAT truck, a dark van and a truck with several camouflage-dressed agents riding in the back.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.