(CNN) — The Justice Department believes more police officers were injured in the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack than have been officially reported, a top prosecutor said Thursday.
In a news conference commemorating the third anniversary of the insurrection, Matthew Graves, the US attorney for the District of Columbia, said it was “likely the largest single-day, mass assault of law enforcement officers in our nation’s history.”
“One hundred and forty officers guarding the Capitol that day reported physical injury, but we know from talking to the hundreds of officers guarding the Capitol that day that this 140 number undercounts the number of officers who were physically injured, let alone those who have suffered trauma as a result of the day’s events,” Graves said.
The on-camera presentation by Graves highlighted the anniversary ahead of the 2024 election – and the months of political campaigning that is expected to serve as a debate on the violent attack on the US Capitol that occurred as Congress certified Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 contest.
Graves recounted the events of January 6 and its aftermath and described the Justice Department’s historic criminal investigation into those who participated in the attack. The presentation mirrored what prosecutors have shown in court during nearly every January 6 trial, allowing the public to watch what juries for the past several years have seen play out inside a courtroom.
The nearly hourlong presentation also served as a prebuttal of sorts to political claims by some critics who have sought to diminish the extent of violence. Graves focused much of his attention on the extremist Oath Keepers and Proud Boys who served as the tip of the spear, breaking windows and overwhelming police, ahead of the crowd that poured into the Capitol.
Former President Donald Trump, whose false claims of a stolen election drew the thousands of protesters to Washington that day, has rallied support for rioters and has promised pardons to those prosecuted. Trump allies in Congress have falsely claimed that there weren’t any weapons used by the mob.
“We will never know all the weapons that were on Capitol grounds that day, because very few in the mob were actually arrested on January 6,” Graves noted, partly, he said, because “there was not enough law enforcement to defend the Capital and the people in it, let alone to arrest the thousands of people who illegally entered Capitol grounds.”
Graves listed the “scores” of weapons that the mob wielded, including guns, tasers, baseball bats, flag poles, knives and other edged weapons, including a sword.
The US attorney also addressed several talking points that some right-wing politicians and media figures have pushed about the attack as part of his presentation, like allegations that the department is prosecuting “peaceful protesters” or otherwise casting too wide of a net in who it decides to prosecute.
“We have used our prosecutorial discretion to primarily focus on those who entered the building or those who engaged in violent or corrupt conduct on Capitol grounds,” Graves said. “But if a person knowingly entered the restricted area without authorization, they had already committed a federal crime.”
He also seemingly pushed back against criticisms that the Justice Department was treating January 6 rioters unfairly, saying that investigators undertake an “arduous, painstaking and thorough” process to protect the rights of “witnesses, victims and defendants.”
“The department’s work is not to win at all costs, it is to do justice for all,” he said.
Fugitive Proud Boy who faked an overdose to delay sentencing gets 10 years
A Proud Boy who cut his ankle monitor and became a fugitive for weeks after he was convicted of assaulting police officers during the January 6 attack was sentenced to a decade behind bars on Thursday.
Christopher Worrell, 52, of Florida, was found guilty in May of six felony counts, including assaulting officers with a deadly weapon, as well as one misdemeanor count.
Before his trial, Worrell was released from jail in late 2021 after a surprise inspection of the facility found that some detainees were being mistreated. The judge overseeing his case was concerned the jail wouldn’t be able to properly treat Worrell’s cancer and ordered him to be released on home detention.
But according to the Justice Department, four days before he was set to be sentenced in August, Worrell cut off his ankle monitor in a Walmart parking lot.
“Worrell’s disappearance triggered an FBI manhunt that culminated six weeks later in his arrest at his home in Naples,” the Justice Department said in announcing his sentence Thursday. “In addition to an unresponsive Worrell, the FBI also found night-vision goggles, a wallet with approximately $4,000 in cash, and a bag with new camping gear inside.”
According to the Justice Department, Worrell admitted to faking an opioid overdose to delay the sentencing and sheriff deputies were posted in his hospital room “during his five-day alleged recovery.”
During the Capitol attack, Worrell spayed pepper gel at a line of officers protecting the building and bragged later that he “deployed a whole can,” according to prosecutors.
Worrell also was sentenced to three years of supervised release following his time in prison.
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