Man admits January 6 attacks on police, AP photographer

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FILE - Violent insurgents loyal to President Donald Trump storm the Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.  An original script for Donald Trump's speech the day after the Capitol uprising included lines asking the Justice Department to

FILE – Violent insurgents loyal to President Donald Trump storm the Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. An original script for Donald Trump’s speech the day after the Capitol uprising included lines asking the Department of Justice to “ensure that all offenders are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law” and stating that rioters “do not represent me,” but those references were removed and never spoken of, according to exhibits released Monday by House investigators. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

PA

A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty on Monday to attacking police officers and an Associated Press photographer during the January 6, 2021 riot at the United States Capitol.

In a settlement with prosecutors, Alan Byerly, 55, admitted wielding a stun gun while confronting officers trying to shield the Capitol from angry mobs. He also admitted to assaulting AP photographer John Minchillo, who was documenting the chaos and violence outside the building where lawmakers were meeting to certify President Joe Biden’s election victory.

In exchange for pleading guilty to two counts stemming from the attacks, prosecutors agreed to drop several other charges Byerly faced, including civil disturbance. An email seeking comment was sent to his attorneys after the hearing in federal court in Washington.

Federal guidelines recommend a sentence of between about three and four years behind bars, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss said. Byerly, of Fleetwood, is expected to be sentenced in October.

Byerly, who was arrested last year, is among three people charged with assaulting Minchillo, who was wearing a helmet-style gas mask when he was pushed, pulled and punched by a group of men outside. exterior of the Capitol. The attack was filmed by a colleague.

Byerly was seen on camera standing behind a group of people who pulled Minchillo backwards down a flight of stairs leading to the west facade of the Capitol building, according to charging documents.

At the bottom of the stairs, Byerly and three other people grabbed the photographer and pushed, shoved and dragged him, authorities said. Byerly grabbed Minchillo with both hands and shoved him backwards before continuing to push him away from the stairs, prosecutors say.

Minchillo found himself leaned against a stone wall by the attackers. Authorities say another man, Benjamin Scott Burlew of Miami, Oklahoma, rushed the photographer and pushed him over the wall, landing Minchillo on his back. Burlew was arrested last August and is due to stand trial in October.

A third man charged with assault was arrested in May. Rodney Milstreed is accused of grabbing Minchillo by his backpack and pulling him backwards down the stairs, then pushing him. In a Facebook post a few days later, Milstreed said attacking the photographer was worth it, adding “Hit him with all God gives. The crowd cheered,” according to court documents.

Authorities say shortly after assaulting Minchillo, Byerly approached officers standing behind a row of bike racks trying to hold back the pro-Trump crowd. Byerly approached officers while holding a stun gun and activated the weapon, but police managed to knock it out of his hands, prosecutors said.

Byerly continued to charge at the officers, punching and pushing them, and grabbed an officer’s baton, authorities said. Officers eventually managed to restrain Byerly, but he fled with the help of another rioter, according to the charging documents.

Byerly is among more than 300 people who have so far pleaded guilty to federal crimes stemming from the riot. More than 840 people have been charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanors to serious crime charges such as seditious conspiracy.

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