ROCHESTER, Minn. - More than a year after the second trial of Alexander Weiss, he is once again the subject of controversy.
Weiss was on trial for second-degree murder twice in 2019. In January of 2018, Alexander Weiss shot 17-year-old Muhammed Rahim after the two were involved in a car crash. Rahim died. Weiss was on his way to officiate a basketball game when the altercation happened.
Was the incident murder, or self-defense? Jurors couldn't come to a unanimous conclusion. The defense argued Weiss had no other option to protect himself, but the prosecution called his actions "unreasonable." The trial resulted in a deadlocked jury in May of 2019, and again in October of the same year. The Olmsted County Attorney's Office said it had no choice but to dismiss the case in November 2019.
Now, Weiss is back on the court as a referee, and that's sparking criticism from some in the community. He was recently spotted officiating at Rochester Public Schools basketball games. Some concerned community members, including Kamau Wilkins, feel it's not appropriate for Weiss to be a referee at Rochester Public Schools events.
"There are still kids in school right now who remember Muhammed Rahim as a friend, and that goes for a lot of community members, and now the school district has allowed a man who killed him to enter the same schools they attend. That's an astoundingly insensitive and unfeeling response to the BIPOC community and any kids who attend Rochester Public School District," he says.
Weiss was also allegedly seen reffing without a face mask, which is also a point of criticism.
"I've been a coach for 25 years and it would be hard to convince me of what possible exemption or what clinician would have made a mask exemption for a job whose duty requires yelling out calls, blowing a whistle, and running full court," says Wilkins. It was brought up during Weiss's trials that he has severe asthma.
KIMT News 3 spoke on the phone to Weiss's attorney, but he was not able to reach his client to see if he would like to respond or have his lawyer respond on his behalf to speak to the trials' outcomes and his rights to work as a referee in Rochester.
Referees are not Rochester Public Schools staffers, but are assigned by the regional assigner from the Rochester Area Officials Association. Wilkins says he was notified that Weiss will no longer be assigned to officiate RPS athletic events. KIMT News 3 reached out to RAOA for confirmation, but it referred us to the RPS Activities Director. At the time of publication, KIMT has not heard back.