Kenneth Harrelson, a Capitol rioter and member of the violent, far-right group known as the Oath Keepers, claimed in a Thursday court filing that he’d been trying to protect Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn at a particular juncture of the Trump supporters’ attempted takeover of the Capitol in January. Mark Zaid, a lawyer for Dunn, quickly batted down the claim as utter nonsense, no doubt based on Dunn’s own recollections of the incident. Dunn was one of four local officers who testified at a public hearing in July about their experiences during the riot. At the hearing, Dunn — who is Black — shared details of the violent racism that he and other officers faced amid the chaos, in addition to the other threats.
As summarized by POLITICO, Harrelson — who is currently detained ahead of his trial — “said in a Thursday court filing he was defending Dunn during the attack on the Capitol and helped to deescalate a situation between Dunn and rioters.” The filing itself claims that Harrelson “and other Oath Keepers… inserted themselves as a buffer between the opposing points of force, as Oath Keepers do.” In his capacity as Dunn’s legal representative in this matter, Zaid said that the claim “is completely false, absurd and nothing more than an attempt to deflect responsibility for his own illegal, unpatriotic actions.” Harrelson was part of the military-style “stack” formation observed on the Capitol steps amid the assault. That set-up involved a group of rioters proceeding in a line while wearing tactical gear and with one hand on a shoulder of group members ahead of them.
If convicted at trial of the charges against him, Harrelson faces a possibility of decades in prison — and at present, he’s headed to trial. Unlike others facing serious charges, Harrelson has opted against taking a plea deal. In the meantime, he’s been revealed to have been a part of the stashing of weapons at a D.C.-area hotel ahead of the assault on the Capitol; the weapons would have been meant for the usage of people on the ground in D.C., should those involved have felt the force to be called for. Among other offenses, Harrelson’s charges include conspiracy, and he is one of some 20 people affiliated with the Oath Keepers to be arrested and charged in connection to the Capitol riot.