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Radicalized by Trump: A Tale of Two Assault Defendants

Journalists and the public who called into Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather’s public access line yesterday presumably called in to hear the initial hearings for a range of January 6 defendants. There were the two life-long friends, Jennifer Ruth Parks and Esther Schwemmer, whose lawyers went to some effort to ensure the no contact provision imposed upon their arrests was explicitly dropped in release conditions as they await resolution of their misdemeanor trespass charges. Right wing media figure Billy Tryon from upstate NY, accused of trespassing, had his appearance without incident. Somehow Albuquerque Cosper Head, accused in one of the more brutal attacks on January 6, the group assault on Brian Fanone, was a side-story of this hearing.

But the hearing — scheduled for an hour but lasting far longer — ended up posing an apt lesson in the human tragedy created by Trump’s radicalization of his supporters.

Even before the judge came in, Landon Copeland had disrupted the proceedings for others. A friend who had logged into the Zoom conference — which is supposed to be restricted to official participants like defendants, lawyers, and pretrial services officers — got booted for using an obscene name. Copeland took a week to travel from Southern Utah to the insurrection with his girlfriend. He is accused of assaulting cops and participating in a civil disorder along with the trespassing charges that virtually all January 6 defendants get charged with.

After he was arrested, Copeland was let out on personal recognizance, but in the wake of learning he’d face consequences for his participation in the riot, he posted threats of violence to his Facebook account.

Plus, Copeland had a recent arrest for violence. He was arrested in early 2020 for stealing a car and lighting it on fire.

Copeland’s interruptions early in the hearing seemed like rage about being held accountable and incomprehension about both the seriousness of his plight and basic things like managing a conference call appearance. As he started screaming, most on the line realized what the outbursts would do for his defense against charges that he lost control on January 6, blew off authority, and beat up some cops, and multiple lawyers and court personnel kept trying to counsel him to shut up. He even promised he would be quiet at one point, only to interrupt as the government described base-level pre-trial release conditions by asking, “Is any of this negotiable?”

Perhaps the most telling exchange came when Anthony Antonio’s attorney, Joseph Hurley, started into a long explanation about why his client — who was arrested in Delaware, lives in South Carolina, but needs to travel nationally for his job — should not have any district level travel restrictions on his release conditions.

If you go by his his arrest affidavit, Antonio is as dangerous as Copeland. He’s not charged with assault, but is charged with participating in a civil disorder,  obstruction, and depredation of property (the charge used to add detention enhancements to militia conspirators). He showed up wearing a 3%er patch and a bullet proof vest. He was involved in the fight in the Lower West Tunnel. And while he grabbed a bullhorn and emphasized keeping the riot peaceful, after he did so, he broke into an office and trashed the place, allegedly coming away wielding a table leg as a weapon.

According to Antonio’s arrest affidavit, the FBI IDed him first by releasing his image in a BOLO, then responding to a tip provided in response.

That’s not what Hurley said. Hurley told Magistrate Meriweather that days after the riot, Antonio had come to his Wilmington, DE office and overcome Hurley’s initial resistance to work with any January 6 defendants by convincing him he was really an up-standing citizen whose mind had been rotted by Fox. This is not a new ploy. Many attorneys representing January 6 defendants have claimed that their clients did what they did because they had been caught up in Trump’s lies. In this case, Hurley claimed that the riot had cured his client of his belief in Trump, but also made him realize that the six months he spent with a bunch of guys living in Naperville during COVID had given him “Foxitis,” and led him to deviate from a successful life in sales to participate in a mob.

Hurley led the growing call-in audience to believe that Antonio came to him and they went to the FBI. But the arrest affidavit suggests that Antonio and Hurley first met the FBI on February 4, long after other witnesses turned him in, and in that meeting, Hurley downplayed his involvement and claimed the cops let them do what they were doing.

On February 4, 2021, FBI agents interviewed ANTONIO with his attorney present. ANTONIO stated that he came to Washington, D.C. because then-President Trump told him to do so. He admitted that he was at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and saw that there were barriers up and that people were clashing with the police. ANTONIO admitted that he was on the scaffolding that day, but stated that another person also on the scaffolding said, “I’m media,” showed ANTONIO a badge, and said that ANTONIO could be on the scaffolding because he (ANTONIO) was “with” the person with the badge. ANTONIO told the agents that he was advising others not to come up on the scaffolding because he was worried it would fall.

When asked if he heard the police give any commands, ANTONIO claimed that when he was on the scaffolding he heard announcements over a speaker, but could not understand what was being said. ANTONIO said that he saw the barriers pushed over by people and that the police were gone. According to ANTONIO, he thought “I guess they gave us the steps, they said we could be on the steps, they’re, they’re done.” ANTONIO also told agents that when he was on the “steps,” – contextually referring to the steps of the Lower West Terrace – he observed a person who was bleeding from the head, and he tried to make a path through the mass of people to get the injured person aid.

When the FBI asked Antonio whether he had entered the room of the Capitol in which — he told VDARE — [we] “broke everything,” Hurley refused to let him answer.

ANTONIO was asked if he was ever in a position to observe what was going on inside the Capitol building. ANTONIO responded that there was a woman yelling, “we broke the window,” and through that window he observed people smashing furniture and piling it in front of the door to create a barricade. ANTONIO reported that because of the chemical irritants in his eyes, he was rubbing them, but he could hear the sound of the property being broken inside the room. When asked if he went inside the Capitol building, ANTONIO’s lawyer stated, “Next question, please,” and the agents complied with that request.

Plus, there’s a key gap — at least in the April 14 affidavit, dated six days before his arrest — in the narrative of what Antonio did. Surveillance video shows Antonio approaching the cops inside the tunnel bearing a stolen riot shield, but that video, at least, doesn’t show what he did there.

Once he made his way to the front of the tunnel, ANTONIO turned his hat around so that the bill was facing backwards. At this time in the investigation, due to the angle of the surveillance video, it is unclear what actions ANTONIO took at the front of the tunnel. Approximately two minutes later, ANTONIO left the tunnel with the riot shield still in his possession. About twenty minutes later, ANTONIO reentered the tunnel and pushed his way towards the front of the crowd; he was ultimately pushed out of tunnel. As before, it is unclear at this point, what ANTONIO did while inside the tunnel due to the angle of the surveillance video.

Antonio told the FBI, at what seems to have been a well-rehearsed interview with the famously showy Hurley (who claimed the only attorney who could vouch for him in DC was a guy named Joe Biden, but that guy isn’t admitted to the DC Bar), that he looked into Michael Fanone’s eyes and saw death and realized things had gone too far.

ANTONIO told the agents that while he was on the steps, he observed about six men drag a police officer down the steps. He claimed that he heard the sound of a taser, looked in that direction, believing that the officer was using the taser against the crowd, but “it was the exact opposite.” Your affiant is aware that this police officer, Officer 1, was tased by participants in the riot. ANTONIO claimed that he locked eyes with the officer, who said, “help, help,” and ANTONIO could see “death in the man’s eyes.” ANTONIO stated he would not be able to get the image of the officer out of his head. ANTONIO reported that this was the point he said to himself something was wrong and not right. According to ANTONIO, he did not help the officer, and “missed my judgement, I didn’t help him when I should of.”

But that was before he entered the Capitol and trashed the joint. And when the guy wearing a 3%er patch and flashing 3%er symbols was asked about affiliations with right wing extremists, he simply said he knew of but was not affiliated with the Proud Boys.

Anyway, Hurley was telling the carefully rehearsed story about how his client’s “Foxitis” explains his role in the insurrection and claiming that his client was cooperating and they would be happy to waive speedy trial for years to let all the bad people be prosecuted first at a dial-in hearing that live coverage about Copeland’s disruptions had attracted more attention to, and Copeland interrupted this speech and said, “This is not pertinent.”

Copeland then continued to hijack the conference between patient court employees muting him, him hanging up, and one after another services personnel calling in to see if they could help.

It was difficult to tell how much of Copeland’s interruptions were about the PTSD that, it was mentioned at the trial, he suffered from or from ties the Sovereign citizen movement in southern Utah. His service and his “taxes” (which he made clear included his child support) were recurrent theories.

I need a bunch of stuff, I’m a veteran, and you owe this to me, I got shot at in Iraq. You guys just done fucked this up. I don’t know who you are. I’m clear out here in the middle of the desert in no man’s land. You can’t come get me if I don’t you to.

An FBI Agent, who was prepared to talk about his threats on Facebook, showed up. But by then, Judge Merriweather had decided she couldn’t move forward without a competence hearing, all exacerbated by the challenge of finding someone Copeland trusted enough to encourage him to attend the hearing. It’s impossible to tell where the very real PTSD ends and the Trump-stoked resentments begin.

Against the background of Hurley claiming Fox and Trump had made his client crazy enough to join a riot, Copeland’s outbursts made it clear how dangerous was the way that Trump has exacerbated the instability of his supporters, how the effect leaves us with no good options.

But claiming his client had been temporarily made crazy by Fo worked for Hurley, at least. His client got his national release conditions.

Updated List of January 6 Assault Defendants

Back in February, I did a post listing the January 6 defendants charged with one or another type of assault against police. I’ve been updating the post (and will update this one), but that one had gotten out of date and I’ve spent much of the morning doing housekeeping on my own tracking of the January 6 defendants so I wanted to repost that list.

Since February, some known assailants have been charged:

  • Julian Khater and George Tanios in the assault on Brian Sicknick suspected of playing a role in his death
  • Albuquerque Cosper Head, Thomas Sibick, and Kyle Young — charged together — in an attack on Michael Fanone and, separately, Daniel Rodriguez for tasing him
  • An expanding group — currently including Jeffrey Sabol, Peter Stager, Michael Lopatic, Clayton Mullins, and Jack Whitton — accused of dragging a cop into the crowd and beating him with various weapons and attacking another, thwarting attempts to help Rosanne Boyland, who was dying nearby

In addition, more militia defendants are being accused of assault, including Proud Boys Christopher Quaglin and Christopher Worrell. Last week, Oath Keeper Jon Schaffer entered a cooperation agreement with the government, probably staving off an assault charge tied to his use of bear spray, and a recent detention motion claims Joshua James riled up assaults on cops as well.

Then there are the rather spectacular cases of Trump State Department official Freddie Klein and former Green Beret Jeffrey McKellop, who’ve been charged with assault.

Yet even while the FBI rounds up more of the people charged with some of the identifiable assaults from January 6, the great majority of BOLOs (Be On the Lookout for — basically, requests for tips) released by the FBI, currently numbering 360, are assault suspects who have yet to be identified. So there may be around 200 more people who could be charged with assault.

And, of course, the pipe bomber remains at large, in spite of a $100,000 reward for information leading to that person’s arrest.

  1. Daniel Page Adams, whose arrest affidavit describes engaging in a “direct struggle with [unnamed] law enforcement officers” (his cousin, Cody Connell, described the exchange as a “civil war”). Tip SM
  2. Zachary Alam, who pushed cops around as he was trying to break into the Speaker’s Lobby. BOLO 79
  3. Wilmar Alvarado, who pushed cops in the mob trying to get in from the West Terrace. BOLO 65
  4. John Anderson, who after taking two riot shields from cops, needed their assistance after getting maced.
  5. Brian Glenn Bingham, who scuffled with two cops after Ashli Babbitt got shot. BOLO 93
  6. David Blair, who poked a cop with a lacrosse stick with a Confederate flag attached. Onsite arrest
  7. Nicholas James Brockhoff, who sprayed a fire extinguisher from the Terrace at cops. BOLO 255
  8. Daniel Caldwell, who was filmed macing 15 cops. SM
  9. Matthew Caspel, who was filmed charging the National Guard. Tip SM
  10. William Chrestman, who is accused of threatening a cop as Proud Boys pushed their way past the original line of defense (charged with 18 USC 115). NM
  11. Reed Christensen, who was videotaped swinging at cops. BOLO and video 191
  12. Luke Coffee, who was videotaped beating several cops with a crutch. (Tip SM and BOLO 108)
  13. Lance Copeland, who admitted to fighting with cops on the barricades.
  14. Christian Cortez, who yelled at cops behind a door.
  15. Matthew Council, who was arresting for shoving cops the day of the riot.
  16. Kevin Creek, who was filmed hitting and kicking officers on the West Terrace. BOLO 296
  17. Bruno Cua, who was filmed shoving a cop to be able to get into the Senate. Tip LE
  18. Nathan DeGrave, whom security cameras caught threatening to fight cops. Network Sandlin
  19. Daniel Egdvedt, a large man who took swipes and grabbed at several officers as they tried to remove him from the Capitol. BOLO 76
  20. Scott Fairlamb, who was caught in multiple videos shoving and punching officers (one who whom is identified but not named); Cori Bush has said she was threatened by him last summer. Tips, including SM
  21. Kyle Fitzsimons, who charged officers guarding the doorway of the Capitol. BOLO 139
  22. Michael Foy, a former Marine who was caught on multiple videos beating multiple cops with a hockey stick. Tip SM
  23. Robert Giswein, who appears to have ties to the Proud Boys and used a bat to beat cops. NM
  24. Vitali Gossjankowski, who was interviewed about whether he had tased MPD officer Michael Fanone, causing a heart attack; instead he was charged with assaulting CPD officer MM (BOLO 98 — with a second one mentioned)
  25. Bryan Gunderson, charged with assault while committing a felony on a superseding.
  26. Alex Harkrider, who after being filmed fighting with police at the door of the Capitol, posted a picture with a crowbar labeled, “weapon;” he was charged with abetting Ryan Nichols’ assault. Tip SM
  27. Richard Harris
  28. Albuquerque Cosper Head, accused of assaulting Michael Fanone.
  29. Emanuel Jackson, whom videos caught punching one officer, and others show beating multiple officers with a metal baseball bat. BOLO 31
  30. Shane Jenkins, alleged to have used a crowbar to break in a window, later threw things including a pole, a desk drawer, and a flagpole at cops.
  31. Douglas Jensen, the QAnon who chased Officer Goodman up the stairs, got charged with resisting him. NM, BOLO 10
  32. Taylor Johnatakis, charged with 111.
  33. Paul Johnson, who carried a bullhorn and was in the initial assault from the west side with Ryan Samsel. BOLO 49
  34. Chad Jones, who used a Trump flag to break the glass in the Speaker’s Lobby door just before Ashli Babbitt was shot and may have intimidated three officers who were pursuing that group. Tip NM
  35. David Judd, who threw a firecracker at cops in the tunnel. Tip and BOLO 137
  36. Julian Elie Khater, who allegedly sprayed Brian Sicknick and two others with very powerful bear spray. BOLO 190
  37. Freddie Klein, the State Department employee who fought with three different officers while trying to break through police lines. BOLO 136
  38. Edward Jacob Lang, who identified himself in a screen cap of a violent mob attacking cops and who was filmed slamming a riot shield into police and later fighting them with a red baseball bat. Tip SM
  39. Nicholas Languerand, accused of throwing a bollar, a can of pepper spray, and a stick at cops in the Lower West Tunnel.
  40. Mark Jefferson Leffingwell, whom a Capitol Police officer described in an affidavit punching him. Onsite arrest
  41. Joshua Lollar, who described fighting cops and was caught in pictures showing himself in the front lines confronting cops. Tip SM
  42. Michael Lopatic, who allegedly assaulted some cops with Stager and Sabol, then took a BWC to hide the assault. BOLO 133
  43. Clifford Mackrell, who attempted to strip an officer’s gas mask after someone else sprayed bear spray. BOLO 124
  44. Patrick Edward McCaughey III, who was filmed crushing MPD Officer Daniel Hodges in one of the doors to the Capitol. BOLO 62
  45. James McGrew, who shoved some cops in the Rotunda then bared his King James belly tattoo, Tip Network
  46. Sean McHugh, accused of spraying some yellow substance at cops and using a sign as a battering ram, BOLO 59
  47. Jeffrey McKellop, a former Special Forces guy accused of assaulting 4 cops, including one by using a flagpole as a spear. BOLO 215
  48. Jonathan Mellis, who used some kind of stick to try to jab and beat police. Tip SM
  49. Jalise Middleton
  50. Mark Middleton, the Middletons fought the cops outside the West entrance to the Capitol. BWC
  51. Garret Miller, who pushed back at cops and then threatened both AOC and the cop who killed Ashli Babbit. Tip LE
  52. Matthew Ryan Miller, who released fire extinguisher in close quarters. Tip SM
  53. Jordan Mink, who used a pole to assault the police.
  54. Brian Mock, who kicked a cop when he was down and bragged about it. BOLO and Tip SM
  55. Patrick Montgomery was charged with assault against MPD officer DJ in a follow-up indictment.
  56. Robert Morss, who in addition to tussling with a cop, was a key organizer of shield walls in the Tunnel. BOLO 147
  57. Aaron Mostofsky, possibly for stripping a cop of his or her armored vest and riot shield. NM
  58. Clayton Mullins, alleged to be part of the mob that assaulted AW and two other police. Tip
  59. Jonathan Munafo, alleged to have fought with cops in two different locations, including punching one in the Lower West Terrace. (BOLO and video 170)
  60. Ryan Nichols, who was filmed wielding a crowbar and yelling, “This is not a peaceful protest,” then spraying pepper spray against police trying to prevent entry to the Capitol. Tip SM
  61. Grady Owens, who allegedly hit a cop in the head on the Mall with a skateboard, as he was heading to reinforce the Capitol. BOLO 109
  62. Jason Owens, accused of assaulting a second officer after his son attacked one with a skateboard. Network Owens
  63. Jose Padilla, who shoved cops at a barricade, then helped use a Donald Trump sign as a battering ram against them. Tip SM
  64. Robert Palmer, who sprayed cops with a fire extinguisher then threw it at them.
  65. Dominic Pezzola, a Proud Boy who stole a shield from cops. NM (BOLO 43)
  66. Mark Ponder, filmed repeatedly attacking cops with poles.
  67. Christopher Quaglin, accused of assaulting cops both at the initial breach of the barriers and later in the Lower West Terrace.
  68. Stephen Chase Randolph, who shoved cops at the initial barricade and later bragged about a female cop’s head bouncing off the pavement. BOLO 168
  69. Daniel Rodriguez, whom videos appear to show tasing Michael Fanone. Sedition Hunter-based reporting
  70. Jeffrey Sabol, helped drag a cop from the Capitol and beat him while prone. LE arrest (erratic driving)
  71. Ryan Samsel, who set off the riot by giving a cop a concussion; he appears to have coordinated with Joe Biggs. BOLO 51 (though not IDed by BOLO)
  72. Salvador Sandoval, Jr, who went to the insurrection with his mother and shoved some cops.
  73. Robert Sanford, who was filmed hitting Capitol Police Officer William Young on the head with a fire extinguisher. Tip NM
  74. Ronald Sandlin, who tried to wrestle cops to keep the door to the Senate open. MPD tip
  75. Troy Sargent, who appears to have punched some cops holding a line. Tip SM
  76. Peter Schwartz, a felon who maced several cops. Tip NM (BOLO 120)
  77. Dan Scott, AKA Milkshake, who shoved some cops in the initial assault. Network.
  78. Christian Secor, a UCLA self-described fascist who helped shove through some cops to break into the Capitol and then sat in the Senate chamber. Tip NM
  79. DJ Shalvey. The details of the assault charged against Shalvey are not public, but he did get charged for lying about it to the FBI.
  80. Barton Wade Shively, who pushed and shoved some police trying to get into the Capitol, punched another, then struck one of those same cops later and kicked another. BOLO 55
  81. Thomas Sibick, accused of being among a group of men who attacked Michael Fanone and stole his badge.
  82. Audrey Southard-Rumsey, the talented singer deemed one of the main agitators in the Statuary Hall Connector. Tip SM
  83. Peter Francis Stager, who was involved in beating a prone cop with a flagpole. Tip SM
  84. Ezekial Stecher, whom videos showed pushing in the Lower West Tunnel.
  85. Tristan Stevens, who fought cops with a shield and baton. Video
  86. Isaac Sturgeon, who is accused of using a barricade to attack some officers.
  87. George Pierre Tanios, who allegedly conspired with Julian Khater to attack Brian Sicknick and two other cops. BOLO 254
  88. Kenneth Joseph Owen Thomas, who organized a MAGA Caravan from AL and then selfied himself attacking cops. BOLO 214
  89. Christopher Warnagiris, the Marine Major who fought to keep the East door open. BOLO 241
  90. Thomas Webster, who attacked a cop with a flagpole (BOLO 145)
  91. Wade Whitten, accused of dragging AW down the steps of the Capitol and hitting him with a crutch (BOLO 130)
  92. Duke Wilson, accused of assaulting several officers in the Lower West Tunnel (BOLO 87)
  93. Christopher Worrell, a Proud Boy who apparently sprayed pepper spray at a line of police.
  94. Kyle Young, accused of attacking Michael Fanone and another officer, and stealing Fanone’s weapon.