WASHINGTON – Stun guns. Crow bars. Baseballs bats. Hockey sticks.
Federal law enforcement agents across the country detailed on Friday the weapons they say rioters wielded against police during the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol, arguing for some men to be jailed until trial while arresting others for the first time.
Among those deemed too dangerous for release were a recently homeless District of Columbia resident with a history of mental health issues and a New York geophysicist who prosecutors say tried to flee to Switzerland. Both are accused of assaulting officers.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Scarpelli said in District federal court Friday that Emanuel Jackson, 20, of Capitol Heights, was “a spoke in the wheel” of the attack whose contribution to the insurrection “cannot be understated.” He said videos show Jackson punching a Capitol Police officer who stood guard outside the Senate wing of the building, helping the mob overrun police and stampede inside.
“The defendant’s actions were incredibly dangerous, disabled law enforcement officers and enabled scores to enter the Capitol,” Scarpelli said.
U.S. Magistrate Michael Harvey agreed. Consequences could have been far worse but for the “quick-thinking and heroic acts of those inside as well as I imagine a great deal of luck,” he said before ordering Jackson held before trial.
Whatever passions inspired the riot “are still running high,” Harvey said, adding, “I have no confidence that whatever drove the defendant to do what he is alleged to have done – whether they be the statements of the president [Donald Trump], mental issues he appears to suffer from or a . . . lapse of judgment” can be addressed short of detention.
Jackson’s youth, lack of any criminal history and “severely challenged” mental health factored into his ruling, Harvey said. Defense attorney Brandi Harden added that Jackson was recently homeless, living in a transition housing program and turned himself in. Harvey agreed to request that Jackson be held at a correctional treatment facility in a program for younger offenders.
Separately on Thursday, federal authorities arrested a Michigan man, Michael Joseph Foy, and accused him of striking a downed police officer several times with a hockey stick and beating other District police officers who had been knocked down and dragged into a crowd of rioters.
An FBI charging affidavit, citing videos of the event, alleged the attack continued for about 16 seconds until Foy was knocked down by another rioter. The FBI said it identified Foy from the videos and postings on his father’s Facebook page.
An attorney for Foy could not immediately be identified.
A judge in New York ordered alleged rioter Jeffrey Sabol detained at a bail hearing on Friday, after prosecutors noted that he attempted suicide and tried to travel to Switzerland after the siege. Sabol, a native of Upstate New York and father of three teens, was employed as a geophysicist, according to his attorney. Prosecutors suggested that Sabol’s suicide attempt was due to “consciousness of guilt.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Krause ruled that Sabol was a flight risk and a danger to the community based on his allegedly egregious conduct at the Capitol. Sabol is seen on footage dragging a police officer down a flight of stairs and holding a baton against an officer’s neck, according to charging documents.
“That conduct is beyond the pale . . . I find it shocking,” Krause said at the proceeding.
Sabol was arrested Friday, as was Scott Fairlamb, a New Jersey gym owner who has previously made news for defying coronavirus restrictions. He is accused of punching a District police officer in the head outside the Capitol.
An attorney for Fairlamb could not immediately be identified; the gym did not respond to a request for comment.
Earlier, Chief Judge Beryl Howell of Washington intervened to have two defendants charged in the riot transported to the District for further deliberations after federal magistrates had initially granted their conditional release. The cases include Robert Barnett, 60, an Arkansas man accused of entering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office with a stun gun, where he was photographed with his boot on an office desk; and Gina Michelle Bisignano, 54, of Beverly Hills, Calif., who is accused of inciting rioters, aiding and abetting the destruction of property interference with law enforcement, and who authorities said was found in possession at her home of an unregistered firearm.
Prosecutors argued that charges involving crimes of violence and felonies involving a dangerous weapon meet requirements for detention pending trial.
As of Friday evening, a hearing was still ongoing for Eric Munchel, of Tennessee, who prosecutors say was photographed inside the Capitol carrying zip-tie handcuffs used as temporary restraints by law enforcement.
Public defender Caryll Alpert told a federal judge in Nashville that Munchel picked up the zip ties to keep them from being misused. He was “trying to keep a rein on” and “protect” his mother, Lisa Eisenhart, who is also facing prosecution, she said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Schrader argued that Munchel showed his own initiative in video from inside the Capitol, where he is heard saying “Zip ties. I need to get me some of them,” and that it’s “probably the last time I’ll be able to enter the building with armor and . . . weapons.”
Both he and his mother wore tactical vests and Munchel carried a Taser into the Capitol, Schrader said. When Munchel’s home was searched three days later, federal agents say they found an assault rifle, a sniper rifle with a tripod, over a dozen other firearms and white plastic handcuffs.
Had they succeeded in finding public officials, he argued “there is every reason to think the defendant and his mother would have put those flexicuffs to use,” Schrader argued.
But they did not; Magistrate Judge Jeffery Frensley noted that there was no evidence Munchel engaged in violence at the Capitol.
A California systems technician from the Federal Aviation Administration was also charged this week; he was inspired to join the riot out of belief that he had “Q clearance,” a reference to QAnon, the extremist ideology based on false claims, prosecutors say.