Blind Spots in the Ashli Babbitt Panopticon

In a status hearing for Thomas Baranyi yesterday, AUSA Candice Wong explained why she hadn’t finished discovery for Baranyi, who stood right behind Ashli Babbitt when she was shot: because new discovery from “other investigations” keeps coming in. By “other investigations,” she likely means content recorded by other defendants when they were storming the Capitol.

For example, in the most recent (laudably detailed) discovery notice to Baranyi’s attorney, Wong included 17 files, six sets of which were designated by “D” — probably defendants — and three sets of which designated by “W” — probably uncharged witnesses.

MARKED SENSITIVE: Videos obtained via legal process and otherwise from other Capitol investigations (17 files):

a. D-2 – 3 photographs, 1 video

b. D-3 – 3 videos

c. D-4 – 1 video

d. D-5 – 1 video

e. D-6 – 1 video

f. D-7 – 1 video

g. W-4 – 2 videos

h. W-5 – 1 video

i. W-6 – 3 videos

In the hearing, Wong explained that incoming discovery might be important for either the defense or the government. It significantly consisted of activity that CCTV hadn’t captured. Wong also explained that as important as the video itself, new discovery has recorded the words of rioters that weren’t otherwise recorded.

Wong’s comments confirm something I’ve pointed out before. Even with the flood of video that captured the events of January 6, there are gaps in that coverage, gaps that the government has seemingly attempted to fill by targeting the arrests of those known to have taken their own video.

That there are gaps in the case against Baranyi, who was in one of the most important locations of the entire riot, suggests something else: that there may be limited CCTV coverage from that hallway. Certainly, Wong seems to be saying that prosecutors are relying, in part, on other defendants’ footage to understand what the key defendants were doing.

Here are all the discovery notices for Baranyi, with a description of the types of material provided:

  • February 24: Arrest materials and 302s, T-Mobile and WhatsApp subpoena returns, plus ten open-source videos.
  • April 19: Extracts of Baranyi’s phone, social media posts about Baranyi, two more open-source videos, plus 20 zipped USCP surveillance videos
  • June 1: MPD body cam footage
  • June 24: Bates-stamped discovery, probably significantly replicating earlier discovery
  • July 1: MPD footage from “Upper House Door exit,” CCTV from Crypt East, two officer interview transcripts, four open-source videos described as, “CSPAN; Storyful; two of shooting,” plus, the 17 files described above.

As noted below, Wong gave the four other defendants who were also at the door — Zach Alam, Chad Jones, Christopher Grider, and John Sullivan –a similar discovery notice in the last week or so. That suggests the MPD footage and the “D” and “W” videos cover that confrontation that is common to all five cases.

Some of the USCP video provided to those four defendants may be common. But Alam, the most boisterous of the lot, only received eight of them (and most of these defendants were all over the Capitol). For most of these defendants, then, the government seems to be relying on open-source video and, increasingly, on the video taken by other defendants.

Zach Alam (one, two, three, four): Eight files from USCP surveillance and ten open-source videos. Many of the same files disclosed to Baranyi.

Chad Jones (one, two, three, four, five): Ten open source, 22 USCP videos, MPD body cam, many of the same files as disclosed to Baranyi on July 1, as well as an extra YouTube of Jones outside.

Christopher Grider (one, two, three, four, five): 20 USCP videos, ten open-source videos, two of his own videos, many of the same filings disclosed to Baranyi.

Brian Bingham: No discovery docketed.

Alex Sheppard No discovery docketed.

Kurt Peterson: CCTV footage of the building exit and some BWC, as well as 17 open-source videos.

Ryan Bennett (one, two): only his own videos from Facebook and his phone.

Phillip Bromley: Unclear whether all discovery docketed, though a set of files marked Highly Sensitive (as CCTV would be), including four videos and two images, are included.

David Mish: Discovery mentions video clips but does not detail them.

Brian McCreary: No discovery docketed.

Sam Montoya: 20 USCP videos, 16 MPD BWC videos, nine open-source videos

John Sullivan (one, two, three): Sullivan’s own video, 24 USCP videos plus 2 screenshots, 17 MPD BWC videos.

44 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    That there are gaps in the case against Baranyi, who was in one of the most important locations of the entire riot, suggests something else: that there may be limited CCTV coverage from that hallway. Certainly, Wong seems to be saying that prosecutors are relying, in part, on other defendants’ footage to understand what the key defendants were doing.

    Most buildings and public areas covered by CCTV produce footage is that is video-only; that is, there’s no sound. Body cameras, OTOH, have both video and audio, as do personal phone recordings. It’s possible that because we’re talking about the Capitol building, their CCTV might be fancy enough to include audio, but that would mean someone spent a lot of money on it. Since we’re talking about the Capitol building, I find that to be a remote possibility,.

    • emptywheel says:

      Good point.

      8’s not a lot of videos for that confrontation in either case, though.

      • VinnieGambone says:

        If there was a hot mic in the hallway would it not likely catch just the din, mostly the din, the cuacophony of blithering grunting stupidity? Posible some dialogue captured, but separating it out? Whooh boy. Whose the poor bastids pulled that detail?

        • Peterr says:

          Perhaps, as long as you can see their lips.

          Video taken from the back of someone (like video taken by a person three rows back as the mob stormed the doors of the House Chamber) would only show the back of their heads, making any kind of lip reading impossible.

        • Raven Eye says:

          Yeah…Hallways are usually horrible acoustic environments, especially when they are long and have a lot of hard surfaces. This is where we need CSI (Fantasy Edition) that can isolate the sound of a mouse fart 50 feet away with the cleaning crew running floor buffers.

  2. mass interest says:

    Since 1/6, I’ve been appalled at what I’ve learned about the lack of security measures at the Capitol complex.

    The law enforcement (Capitol police) department seems to have been weak since who knows when, operating on a shoe-string with questionable leadership. The CCTV evidence of the insurrection that has come to light is slim, although perhaps much of this is being publicly withheld.

    After 9/11, one would think that security would have been a priority. Perhaps I’m missing something here.

    I keep coming back, in my mind, to Pelosi’s overall weakness in her current role. She can’t be gone soon enough.

    • Jefferson Smith says:

      Agreed, but as they say, generals are always fighting the last war. The lesson from 9/11 (and the Oklahoma City bombing) was that government buildings were vulnerable to mammoth outside attacks, like someone crashing planes into them or blowing them up with truck bombs. Probably no one thought seriously about a threat in which the building itself was intact, but hundreds of invaders within were storming through hallways and battering down doors, and therefore you would want good CCTV coverage of the interior.

      • Vinnie Gambone says:

        At what particular point were these nuts planning to use the guns? They didn’t bring them if they didn’t think at some point they were going to use them. What did they believe was going to happen if they strarted using the weapons, especially in the capitol? Is their defence going to be they brought weopons in case they were attacked by Anti-fa or FAFO? If they brought them specifically to use in the storming, I can not see how they should not hang.

        • Wajim says:

          After a scrupulously fair trial and appeals process, I assume, or as close to one as we can get. In any case, the GOP seems to be moving toward firing squads these days

        • Balifarthelost says:

          I despise Clownface von Fuckstick their leader and instigator. I detest nixon worshiper and capitol coup attempt organizer/agitator Roger (Traitor) Stone.

          But you are calling for quick execution of misled foolish americans. MURDER BAD!
          There are too many americans who think they can make this nation a better place by killing.

          It is at the root of too many of our problems I think.

        • Vinnie Gambone says:

          They came to kill. They think of this as war. How many more misled foolish Americans are there out there chomping at the bit to pop off? Your point is right, accepted and respected. Just dreading this movement as much as the gun culture in the city. 2400 shootings in my city last year. Way too many Americans getting shot. Hundreds of kids. It is nuts out there. Everywhere.

        • Katherine M Williams says:

          “There are too many americans who think they can make this nation a better place by killing.”

          And most of them are republicans.

        • @pwrchip says:

          As a combat Marine, I see J6Attack as a test, that T’s army tried their 1st step. As more MSM reports of how defenseless the Capitol is, which, is great Intel for those terrorists.
          Expect, a more successful 2nd attack and if Capitol LE doesn’t use deadly force 1st, it’s going to be a bloodbath of Congress.
          I’m all for doing NO HARM, but we can’t sugar coat this WAR that has been established. Do you really think this is it; no more attempts to take over the nation by force?

        • Leoghann says:

          Through history, we have thousands of examples, of the mayhem a mob can produce. I believe that, if the Secret Service and Capitol Police had not worked as quickly as they did, we would have had dead Congress members. And a mob becomes much more dangerous with the taste of blood.

      • BobCon says:

        What makes the lack of security harder to excuse is the 1998 shooting inside the Capitol as a gunman charged towards Tom DeLay’s office.

        The inability to simply lock down the space — the lack of secure doors, or the ease with which gates were kept open — is stunning, and it’s a failure that goes back to Republican control as well as the current Democrats.

        More effort has been wasted on theater about locking down kindergartners than responding to actual murders in the Capitol. And there has been no lack of death threats for members during all of this time, or even attempts. They all knew the Capitol was insecure and didn’t fix much.

    • dssme says:

      “…Pelosi’s overall weakness…”

      I take issue with your critique on someone who has very little to do with the attack. The critique belongs on tRUmp, the MOC who helped incite it with him, his criminal administration who attempted to enable it, McCarthy, McConnell & Pence who were in charge of their MOC and, of course, the attackers themselves
      Then we can get down to what Pelosi did or didn’t do

      • bmaz says:

        Naw, it is perfectly fine to criticize Pelosi. She has been pathetically lame as to real oversight and accountability, as opposed to dumb stunted and limited impeachments for show. Pelosi has been a joke.

        • bmaz says:

          I love and respect the hell out of Pelosi. She is a force of nature. But arguably too often a force that really missed the mark; badly. She has always been in a tough spot, yet one that invites the criticism.

    • emptywheel says:

      Much of the CCTV has been withheld. The Paul Gosars of the world are demanding all of it be released, which would effectively tell the future conspirators where the weak spots are, which is why it is being withheld.

      Having spent a lot of time in Brussels in the aftermath of the 2016 terrorist attacks there, I was acutely aware of how counterterrorism measures have the effect of making legislators far less accessible to lobbyists, school tours, and terrorists. Particularly given that this lobby is one of the key locations where members of Congress horse trade, it may have fewer CCTV cameras both to protect the privacy of those discussions as well as out of a false sense of security.

      • Leoghann says:

        One issue with CCTV footage is that it makes possible the exact location of each camera, as well as whatever limitations the coverage has. And that not only allows miscreants to hide in any blind spots, it also facilitates the disability of cameras. It’s not that much of an issue on the streets, where some cameras can be located far above any attempt to disable them (except with a bullet). But in a closed building, most cameras are going to be within vandalism reach.

      • mass interest says:

        Thank you for the link. Informative and disturbing.

        Although I don’t have links to present here, I remember being puzzled as to why there were apparently so few Capitol officers on duty 1/6.

        Subsequent to 1/6, I wondered – based on reports I read at the time – whether the lack of Capitol LEO staffing during the insurrection was deliberate due to “inside” decisions to under-staff.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump’s attempt to elevate the deceased Ashli Babbitt to martyrdom is reprehensible, cynical, opportunistic, and false. It is also mainline Trump politics, designed to keep him the center of attention and to distract and own the libs. But martyrs have been good business for millenia.

    The medieval Roman Church, for example, made an industry of it, as did local pureyors of goods and services. Towns vied to possess their martyr they way American cities vied to host Jeff Bezos’s illusionary Amazon HQ2. Having the bones of a top-ranked martyr, a partial bone from another, or one of the thousands of slivers hewn from the “true cross” was immensely lucrative. Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th Canterbury Tales, for example, were framed around the pilgrimage trail to see 12th century Archbishop Thomas Becket’s shrine. Trump, no doubt, has plans, but none of them involve the real Ashli Babbitt.

      • Theodora says:

        Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth also makes it clear just how important a cathedral with relics of a saint was to a town. It reminded me of how cities build stadiums today to attract tourists.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Unfortunately for her, Babbitt’s life seems to have deteriorated from distinguished military service to Q-addled mania. I dread where this propaganda campaign is going: once Trump and his allies get “the name” of the officer, what do they plan on doing with it? They haven’t said, and the only place this goes is hell.

    • Lawnboy says:

      Agreed. Mrs Lawnboy and I did the Amalfi Coast for 2 weeks and the bones and shrines tours were new to us. That said, a must for the bucket list, plant material was fantastic…cactus to pines, and a dead ringer for the “American Chesnut “.

    • Tom says:

      Trump and his Freikorps seem intent on turning Ms. Babbitt into their own Horst Wessel figure.

  4. may says:

    am i being naive or just sassenach

    but haven’t all the lies been just the same as yelling “fire”in a theatre, crowded or otherwise?

  5. dwfreeman says:

    Of all the riot footage documenting Babbitt’s shooting in the hallway, available audio accompanying it moments before she leaps to a broken window seeking to make her way toward the area of escaping lawmakers, is a repeated warning by fellow rioters of an officer with a gun on the opposite side of the doorway prepared to fire, if necessary.

    It almost epically re-frames the lyrics of Buffalo Springfield’s anti-war protest anthem, For What It’s Worth. “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear. There’s a man with a gun over there. Telling me I got to beware.”

    What is evident is that this warning is either not transmitted, overheard, or clear to Babbitt as she rushes headlong into the fray without fear of consequence. This would have been the same result if insurrectionists had foreced their way into one of the barricaded chamber entrances and encountered armed resistance upon doing so.

    But this wasn’t 1968 Chicago, Kent State or even Lafayette Square, which Trump sought to clear last June 1 with an overt violent response from a overwhelming force of horse-riding, baton wielding police as military helicopters whirred overhead.

    “What a field day for the heat. A thousand people in the street. Singing songs and carrying signs. Mostly say, Hooray for our side.”

    Trump’s contention that Babbitt was wrongfully shot and her martyred death should somehow ameliorate the actions of fellow insurrectionists is beyond even his wretched political calculation of his base attention-deflecting remarks. “Well, Orange Julius, I guess Capitol security is a a little more serious” than enabling big lie adherents to breach it without consequence or accountability.

    “Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep. It starts when you’re always afraid. Step out of line, the (FBI) men come and take you away.”

    “You better stop. Hey, what’s that sound. Everybody look what’s going down.”

    • bmaz says:

      As brutal as it was, that single shot slowed down the breach sufficiently to let a lot of people get to safety. Trump playing it differently is abhorrent.

      • Raven Eye says:

        If the insurrectionists had been able to get close to Pence, there could have been a blood bath.

      • Leoghann says:

        Trump had, and has, absolutely no vested interest in keeping any of those people safe, not even his staunchest supporters, enablers, and apologists in Congress.

  6. subtropolis says:

    The three cops and one security guard barring the door that Babbitt eventually went through do not appear to be wearing cameras. The cops in riot gear who come up the stairs may have body cameras but the first two do not seem to be wearing them, either. (It’s when they arrive on the scene that the other cops step aside, allowing the mob to rush the door.) (Scene begins shortly after 27:00)

  7. newbroom says:

    These are the fine folks behind the “Stand Your Ground” laws. Should they not observe their own rules?

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