A Northeast Florida man charged with assaulting police during the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol is arguing he was entrapped, his attorney told court officials in Washington.
Daniel Paul Gray was indicted last year on nine counts, with penalties that legally could top 20 years, after being accused of shoving police and causing a female officer to fall down a flight of stairs in the Capitol’s rotunda.
But defense attorney John M. Pierce wrote in a court filing over the weekend that his client will argue the officer created the situation so it’s not Gray’s fault.
“While Gray was lawfully standing and protesting outside the Capitol, Gray’s cellphone device was unlawfully stolen … by an (apparent) law enforcement officer,” the lawyer wrote.
“… Gray was forced to follow the apparent officer into the interior of the Capitol to seek recovery of his device,” Pierce wrote. “These facts establish a type of entrapment defense, because Gray was not intending to enter the Capitol prior to the unlawful actions of the alleged officer.”
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Arguing entrapment could add another layer of complexity to the case prosecutors have to prove to convict Gray, 42, whose lawyer also said he’d argue Gray acted justifiably to recover stolen property.
“Thus, at trial the United States will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Daniel Gray (1) did not enter the Capitol to retrieve his stolen cell phone; and (2) was not entrapped into following an officer into the Capitol where the officer later claimed to have been ‘assaulted’ by Gray,” the lawyer wrote in a document called a notice of affirmative defenses.
Gray, who lived in Neptune Beach when he was arrested last year, is one of about 800 people charged after the riot, when supporters of former President Donald Trump tried to stop Congress from certifying Trump's election loss to President Joe Biden.
Gray’s phone has been a part of the court case since the first charges were filed in May 2021.
Within days of the riot, according to the complaint, Gray described events at the Capitol on Instagram, saying “a female cop stole my phone and I got mace’d. ... and I’m like you know what, we’re doing this and so we literally pushed them from the front steps of the Capitol all the way back.”
The complaint said Gray’s posting described overrunning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and later coming into contact with the female officer, an unnamed member of Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department.
Describing Gray struggling with police, the complaint said an officer’s body-worn camera “recorded Gray as he asked the group of officers several times, ‘Can I have my cell phone back please?’”
Gray had the phone with him when he was arrested in May and it was taken as evidence to show texts and social media postings he’d made about the riot.
His lawyer asked a judge this month to have the phone returned to Gray, who has been free while the case heads to trial.
But a prosecutor asked to delay that question, saying that the government has offered to return the phone if Gray will sign a statement that a digital copy authorities made of its contents is accurate, which would eliminate a need for any action by the judge.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Jan. 6 riot: Florida man charged with assaulting police claims entrapment