Missouri governor Mike Parson announced on Tuesday he had fulfilled his promise to pardon a couple who gained notoriety for pointing guns at social justice demonstrators as they marched past the couple’s home in a luxury St Louis suburb last year.
Mr Parson, a Republican, on Friday pardoned Mark McCloskey, who pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanour fourth-degree assault and was fined 750 dollars (£538), and Patricia McCloskey, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanour harassment and was fined $2,000 dollars (£1,440).
“Mark McCloskey has publicly stated that if he were involved in the same situation, he would have the exact same conduct,” the McCloskeys’ lawyer Joel Schwartz said on Tuesday. “He believes that the pardon vindicates that conduct.”
The McCloskeys, both lawyers in their 60s, said they felt threatened by the protesters, who were passing their home in June 2020 on their way to demonstrate in front of the mayor’s house nearby in one of hundreds of similar demonstrations around the country after George Floyd’s death.
The couple also said the group was trespassing on a private street.
Mark McCloskey emerged from his home with an AR-15-style rifle, and Patricia McCloskey waved a semi-automatic pistol, according to the indictment.
Photos and cellphone video captured the confrontation, which drew widespread attention and made the couple heroes to some and villains to others. No shots were fired, and no one was hurt.
Special prosecutor Richard Callahan said his investigation determined that the protesters were peaceful.
“There was no evidence that any of them had a weapon and no one I interviewed realised they had ventured onto a private enclave,” Callahan said in a news release after the McCloskeys pleaded guilty.
Several Republican leaders — including then-President Donald Trump — spoke out in defence of the McCloskeys’ actions. The couple spoke on video at last year’s Republican National Convention.
Mark McCloskey, who announced in May that he was running for a US Senate seat in Missouri, was unapologetic after the plea hearing.
“I’d do it again,” he said from the courthouse steps in downtown St Louis. “Any time the mob approaches me, I’ll do what I can to put them in imminent threat of physical injury because that’s what kept them from destroying my house and my family.”