At least 6 pro-Trump rioters charged in the Capitol insurrection have already been released from custody

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz
·6 min read
A protester is seen hanging from the balcony in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital.
Josiah Colt was photographed hanging from a wall in the Capitol. He has since been arrested and released on pretrial conditions. Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • At least six men accused of participating in the Capitol riots have already been released from custody.

  • More than 70 criminal cases have been opened since a mob of violent pro-Trump fanatics rampaged the Capitol.

  • Some of the few rioters who have already had their initial court appearances — including a man who is accused of striking an officer, one who hung from the wall of the Capitol, and another pictured wearing a Camp Auschwitz shirt — have been allowed to go home to their families while they await their trials.

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Related: What it was like in the middle of the pro-Trump mob at the Capitol

The Boise, Idaho, man photographed hanging from the wall of the US Capitol on January 6 was released from custody on Wednesday.

Josiah Colt is charged in federal court with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

He is one of at least five pro-Trump rioters charged with federal crimes who have already been allowed to go home pending trial.

Dozens of people who were at or around the violent siege of the Capitol building last week have been charged - some of them also indicted - with crimes in DC or federal courts, and that list is growing by the hour.

The Department of Justice said Tuesday that is had already opened 70 criminal cases, but not all of their court documents have been released yet.

Among the 26 federal defendants identified by the Department of Justice on Wednesday afternoon, a handful have already been released on pretrial conditions.

Judge Robert Bush ordered that Colt be released from custody on a long list of conditions, including that he stay away from the state and federal capitol buildings, abstain from drinking alcohol, and actively seek work.

Adam Johnson and Joshua Pruitt

Trump riot2
A pro-Trump rioter carries the lectern of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi through the Rotunda of the Capitol. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Adam Johnson, the Florida man captured in a Getty photo carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern, was also released after his initial appearance in court.

He is charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; a count of theft of government property; and a count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Johnson's conditions of release include surrendering his passport and firearms, consenting to drug screenings, and wearing a tracking device.

Joshua Pruitt was initially arrested on a curfew violation and later charged with with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority. He was released from custody after his first federal court hearing.

Mark Leffingwell

Even those who have been charged with violent crimes are starting to be allowed to go home to their families.

Mark Jefferson Leffingwell, of Seattle, Washington, was among the few people who were arrested while still inside the Capitol last week.

Capitol Police Officer Daniel Amendola wrote in an affidavit that he and other officers were attempting to form a barrier to prevent the mob from further entering the Capitol when Leffingwell pushed by him and then punched him repeatedly with a closed fist in his helmet and chest.

A grand jury has since indicted Leffingwell on charges that include assaulting a federal officer, entering or remaining in a restricted building and disorderly conduct, violent entry into the Capitol building, and being involved in violence in a capitol building.

Leffingwell, who served in the Washington National Guard, was released from custody on Tuesday.

Nich Ochs

Law enforcement in Hawaii arrested local Proud Boys leader Nicholas Ochs as soon has he got off his plane from DC.

Ochs took a selfie smoking a cigarette the Capitol and posted it to Twitter. The far-right member also participates in creating content in the "Murder the Media" podcast. At the Capitol, Ochs posed in front of "Murder the Media" graffiti, which was drawn on a door.

He is charged with one count of unlawful entry to restricted buildings or grounds.

US Magistrate Judge Wes Porter allowed Ochs to be released from the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu, the Honolulu Civil Beat reported.

The judge declined a request from the government to order that Ochs stay away from Capitol grounds or political protests.

Robert Packer

Robert Packer camp auschwitz capitol
Robert Packer is seen wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" sweatshirt inside the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. He was arrested on January 13, and the DOJ included this image in his court documents. ITN/Department of Justice

A 56-year-old Virginia man made infamous for wearing a "Camp Auschwitz" sweatshirt while breaching the US Capitol was also released from custody on pretrial conditions.

Robert Keith Packer, 56, was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority.

He had previously been convicted of several crimes that including forging public records, driving under the influence, driving without a license, and once had a warrant placed for failing to appear in court.

Packer was arrested on Wednesday in Virginia. By Thursday morning, he was allowed to go home, on the conditions that he stay away from DC and appear at his scheduled virtual hearing next week.

How the pre-trial release process works

Judges in state and federal courts are tasked with ruling on whether defendants should be released before trial.

Many state courts operate using a bail system, where judges determine an individuals financial means and likelihood to skip out on their next hearing. If the individual can post the set bail, they will be released, usually with a set of conditions. If they don't return to court, they forfeit the bail. If a judge finds the person to be a danger to the community, they can decide to hold them without bail pending trial. Some states require defendants, usually those accused of violent crimes, to stay in custody before trial.

In federal courts, there is no monetary bail set - rather judges decide whether to release a defendant based on the seriousness of the offense, their likelihood of showing up for court, and whether or not they pose a threat to the public.

As of 2018, nearly 75% of federal defendants were detained ahead of their trial, according to a report by the US Courts Probation and Pretrial Services office. Many immigration cases are held in federal court, in addition to cases regarding federal law, the Constitution, bankruptcy, or any case where the United States is a party.

The pretrial detention rate among white defendants was 45%. For Black defendants it was 55%. For Hispanics it was 79%.

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