WASHINGTON — A federal judge said he was “inclined” to order that a Jan. 6 Capitol riot suspect remain in detention on Monday after prosecutors presented video footage of the man dragging a police officer down the steps of the Capitol and into a mob and physically assaulting officers.
Jack Wade Whitton, a 30-year-old CrossFit instructor from Georgia, was identified by the government as the man in new officer-worn body camera footage also kicking officers and saying, “You’re going to die tonight.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen Kukowski argued on behalf of the government that Whitton, who remains in custody in Georgia, should not be released pending trial because he remains a threat to the public.
Prosecutors previously disclosed text messages Whitton allegedly sent to a confidential informant in which he boasted about the assault afterward.
“I fed him to the people. Idk his status. And don’t care tbh,” Whitton allegedly said about the officer whom he allegedly dragged into the mob.
The Jan. 6 riot resulted in the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, and two other officers who died by suicide in its aftermath.
Whitton was identified in the new footage through the clothing he was known to have worn on Jan. 6, including a “TRUMP 2020” hat. Kuklowski said Whitton had not denounced his views that led to his attempt that day to stop the government from certifying the 2020 presidential election results, and therefore his ideology could cause him to engage in more violence.
Defense attorney Benjamin Alper pointed to dozens of statements from Whitton’s friends and family expressing his actions on Jan. 6 were out of character and claimed the government had not made a compelling case that Whitton would present a continued threat if released before trial.
Whitton and other defendants are charged with assaulting the officer using a “baton, flag, pole and a crutch.” He allegedly climbed over a barrier and used a crutch to assault an officer, and proceeded to drag the officer down steps by the head and face-down into the awaiting mob of rioters.
“The defendant isn’t someone that rushed into an assault that was already occurring or took advantage of what others started,” Kukowski said on Monday. “He himself was the instigator.”
Whitton is charged alongside Jeffrey Sabol, Peter Stager and Michael Lopatic. They face some of the most serious charges filed so far for the violent fighting on the Capitol’s west terrace.
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“His actions — climbing over a railing while armed with a crutch — started a melee that resulted in two officers being dragged out of a police line and into a violent mob, and at a minimum, a third officer being assaulted while that officer attempted to rescue his colleagues,” the government said in a court filing.
Judge Emmet Sullivan said he would issue a decision on whether Whitton should continue to be held within a few days, but that he was leaning toward agreeing with the government that Whitton presents too much of a danger to be released.
Nearly 400 people have been charged in connection to the Jan. 6 riot, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol Building, delaying the certification of the 2020 election and causing property destruction and injury.