Two Trump-Crazed Rioters Found Guilty For Attacking Capitol Officers

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Two participants in last year’s Trump-incited mob attack on the Capitol who assaulted police officers including Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the U.S. Capitol Police and Daniel Hodges of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department were found guilty this week at a bench trial overseen by federal Judge Trevor McFadden.

McFadden handled the question of defendants’ guilt, and in total, the trial dealt with three rioters, including a third who the Justice Department says hung overhead in the Lower West Terrace tunnel area at the Capitol, shouting directions to fellow riot participants. The three who were found guilty of various offenses, including felony charges of assaulting police or aiding and abetting the assault of police, include 25-year-old Connecticut man Patrick E. McCaughey III, 26-year-old Florida man Tristan Chandler Stevens, and 63-year-old Ohio man David Mehaffie. Sentencing for all three defendants will take place next January. During the riot, McCaughey used a stolen riot shield to pin Hodges against a doorframe in the tunnel area in a sequence of events that was infamously captured on tape and widely circulated. Hodges called out in obvious pain as he was assaulted.

McCaughey’s charges of which he was found guilty include seven felonies, including three counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding law enforcement officers or aiding and abetting assaults, including one involving a dangerous weapon (the stolen riot shield). Assaulting police using a dangerous weapon comes under federal law with up to 20 years in prison. Meanwhile, Stevens — who was also found guilty of assaulting police — shoved Gonell with another stolen shield as the Capitol violence unfolded. Mehaffie testified at trial, claiming the force of the crowd is what pushed him into police, and he broadly characterized himself as supposedly trying to keep levels of conflict low. As summarized by The Washington Post, Mehaffie was confronted at trial with details including that he pounded on glass doors at the Capitol and called out to rioters who the Justice Department says were hesitating that “if we can’t fight over this wall, we can’t win this battle!”

McCaughey, meanwhile, emphasized in his own testimony that he let up with his assault when Hodges started screaming — as though that makes up for it and up to that point any remotely reasonable person could have been unclear as to the nature of what was going on. McCaughey was placed in custody until his sentencing. The judge said in light of what he called his “incredible” testimony: “I frankly don’t trust that he would return for sentencing.” McFadden acquitted Stevens and Mehaffie on charges of obstruction of an official proceeding, which is another felony offense that has often shown up in cases related to the Capitol riot. McCaughey’s intent to obstruct Congressional proceedings was the only one the judge concluded was clear. The judge, however, questioned notions that the three defendants before him were simply trying to make themselves heard. “They’ve been demonstrating outside. They’ve been demonstrating all day. Why go to such efforts, why hurt multiple officers just to go in and demonstrate inside? It doesn’t pass the laugh test,” he said in court this week.

Image: Tyler Merbler/ Creative Commons