Court Battles

First Capitol riot defendants plead guilty to officer assaults

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A New Jersey gym owner and a Washington state man charged in connection to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot have become the first defendants to plead guilty to assaulting law enforcement officers.

Scott Kevin Fairlamb, who was previously indicted on 12 counts, pleaded guilty Friday in a remote hearing to one count of obstruction of an official proceeding and another for “assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia confirmed to The Hill.

The 44-year-old, who has been in jail since his Jan. 22 arrest, will appear in a sentencing hearing on Sept. 27, where he faces a maximum punishment of up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine for obstruction of an official proceeding and up to eight years and a $250,000 fine for assault on law enforcement.

The attorney’s office later announced that 28-year-old Devlyn Thompson in another hearing Friday pleaded guilty to criminal information charging him with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers while using a dangerous weapon.  

Thompson, a Seattle native, had not been in custody since the riot, and now faces his own sentencing hearing on Sept. 27. 

He could be punished with up to 20 years in prison, as well as three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, the attorney’s office said. 

According to a January criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, a “concerned citizen” submitted a video to the FBI showing a man, later identified by authorities as Fairlamb, “shove and punch” an officer in front of the Capitol as former President Trump’s supporters gathered to protest the certification of 2020 election results. 

Another video submitted by a “second concerned citizen” was included in a Facebook post from Fairlamb’s account, in which the former mixed martial arts fighter could be seen holding a collapsible baton and saying, “What (do) patriots do? We f—ing disarm them and then we storm the f—ing Capitol!”

Prosecutors also said that Fairlamb harassed a line of police officers by shouting in their faces and blocking their ability to respond to the mob storming the Capitol. 

Fairlamb’s defense attorney, Harley Breite, said in an interview with The Associated Press after Friday’s hearing that his client decided to enter into the plea deal to “pay the price for what he had done and then move on with his life.”

“It wasn’t so much about the deal. It was about his desire to own up to what he had done, make himself a better person for the future and move on,” he explained. 

Breite, who said he planned to ask the judge for a sentence below the government’s recommended punishment, said that Fairlamb’s actions on Jan. 6 have “eviscerated large parts of his life.” 

“He has lost his business. The mortgage on his home where he lives with his wife is in peril,” the attorney said. “And he has been publicly disgraced.” 

Prosecutors said that Thompson admitted that he “was among a crowd of individuals on the lower west terrace who were pushing against and assaulting MPD and U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officers in the tunnel leading into the U.S. Capitol.”

Thomspon also specifically admitted to throwing “objects and projectiles at the officers, including flag poles, and grabbed and stole the officers’ riot shields to prevent them from defending themselves against the violence.” 

Thompson’s attorneys have previously said that their client has autism spectrum disorder, which they cited as a reason to keep him out of jail while awaiting his sentencing. 

Fairlamb and Thompson are among the more than 560 people who have been charged with federal crimes in connection with the Jan. 6 riot, and two of at least 33 defendants to have pleaded guilty to charges.

Five officers who responded to the rioting have since died, including four who died by suicide.

Updated: 5:20 p.m.

Tags 2020 election capitol building Capitol riot Capitol riot charges Donald Trump insurrection New Jersey U.S. Attorney's Office U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Washington D.C.
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