LEWISTON — A state police officer Tuesday identified a local teenager as the person captured on video throwing a rock that was believed to have knocked down a man who later died.

Emmanuel Nkurunziza, left, appears Monday in 8th District Court in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Detective Jennifer King testified in 8th District Court that she watched two personal videos of a June 12, 2018, brawl on Knox Street involving Donald Giusti, 38, who died three days later from injuries he sustained during the street fight.

A medical examiner testified Monday that Giusti died from blunt-force trauma to his head and torso.

A judge presiding over the hearing is expected to decide whether there was probable cause to charge Emmanuel Nkurunziza, 18, with manslaughter and whether he should be tried as a juvenile or an adult.

Nkurunziza, who turned 18 in May, had just turned 17 when the melee erupted near Kennedy Park between a group of black teens and white men.

Police said Nkurunziza admitted to having thrown a rock but said he hadn’t seen where it landed. A witness told police he saw Nkurunziza throw a rock and saw it hit Giusti on the head.


King testified that she recognized several people captured on two personal videos of the melee.

She identified Pierre Musafiri, 23, who was charged with assault in Giusti’s death and later interviewed. She said he could be seen on one of the videos kicking Giusti in the area of his shoulder and clavicle.

Although she hadn’t interviewed Nkurunziza, she said she could identify him from her investigation, having viewed photos of him and through witness descriptions.

“It looked like Emmanuel in the video throwing a rock,” she said.

In an interview with David Tuyishime, 18, who was a friend of Nkurunziza’s and his classmate at Lewiston High School, King asked Tuyishime about the June 12, 2018, fight.

She said Tuyishime told her that Nkurunziza, whom he called Emmie, told him he threw the rock that struck Giusti.


“David told me that he said Emmie told me he threw the rock,” she said.

Tuyishime told King in an audiotaped interview that was played in court Tuesday that he identified Nkurunziza as the person who threw the rock by watching the video, not by having witnessed the event in person.

But Tuyishime testified Tuesday that he was unsure who was shown in the video because the person’s face was never shown.

When police showed him a photo taken of Nkurunziza at school earlier that day and compared it to the person in the video, Tuyishime said he told police “it could be him, but I wasn’t sure.”

Answering a question from Judge Rick Lawrence, Tuyishime said, “I was not able to see him clearly, but because I was so scared, I just made a guess.”

Tuyishime said he never saw Nkurunziza during the fight on Knox Street that night. He said he had felt scared and intimidated by police during interviews and pressured into telling them what they wanted to hear.


“It was a scary situation to me,” he said through a court interpreter. “When they would come, it looked like they were coming to take me to jail. So, the questions that they were asking me, the way I was responding to them was also like someone who was scared.”

He said he didn’t understand everything police had said to him during questioning.

King said Tuyishime didn’t have an interpreter, but never asked for one and she never thought there was a language barrier.

Although he was 17 at the time on the June 27, 2018, interview, Tuyishime didn’t have a parent or guardian with him during the interview, he said.

Earlier in the day, Tuyishime testified that he saw a rock hit a shirtless man in the shoulder as he stood facing him and the man fell. Giusti wasn’t wearing a shirt when he was found critically injured on the pavement that night. Tuyishime said he hadn’t seen who threw the rock because it had come from behind him.

Tuyishime said he’d been hit by a baseball bat at the start of the melee and lost consciousness. After regaining consciousness, he said he grabbed a piece of metal and went looking for the man with the baseball bat.


A Lewiston High School teacher testified Tuesday that Nkurunziza was still learning the basics of the English language by the end of the 2017-18 school year. She said it takes up to three years to acquire basic skills in a new language.

Nkurunziza, who is Congolese, was a sophomore last year. He had come to the United States less than two years earlier from a Rwandan refugee camp.

The school’s principal, Jake Langlais, said Nkurunziza had been tardy often and absent 23 times during the 175-day school year last year but didn’t pose any disciplinary problems. He wrote in a letter that the teen was always very kind and polite.

Sun Journal Staff Writer Steve Collins contributed to this report.

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