Prosecutor asks judge to keep accused Capitol rioter in jail ahead of trial

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

By Mark Hosenball

A U.S. prosecutor on Tuesday asked a federal judge to order continued pre-trial detention for a man charged with spraying a chemical on police officers during the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Collyer said evidence showed “escalating conduct” by Samuel Lazar, 37, of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, who the prosecutor alleged was “obsessed” with firearms and Trump’s false claims that his defeat in the 2020 presidential election was the result of widespread fraud.

Collyer said prosecutors do not believe Lazar entered the Capitol building during the riot. But in court papers the government alleged that Lazar, wearing a tactical vest and goggles and with his face painted “in a camouflage design,” pushed his way to the front of a line of police guarding the Capitol and used a bullhorn to encourage rioters to grab police weapons.

Prosecutors said Lazar “discharged a chemical irritant at three police officers” and later “bragged in a video about macing police.” More than 660 defendants have been arrested on riot-related charges.

Matthew Wilson, Lazar’s defense lawyer, described the alleged conduct as “an aberration” and said a careful review of riot video did not show Lazar intentionally spraying police. Wilson said Lazar presented “no ongoing dangerousness” and should be released to home detention instead of being held in prison, where Wilson said Lazar was in isolation, “presumably for his own protection.”

Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden on Tuesday sentenced a Texas man to 500 hours of community service for unlawfully entering the Capitol on Jan. 6. The defendant, Eliel Rosa, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was not accused of violence.

The government asked McFadden to impose a sentence of one month of house arrest and three years of probation, but the judge said he did not think home confinement was necessary.

Reuters

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