FILE - Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. An Alabama man who parked a pickup truck filled with weapons and Molotov cocktail components near the U.S. Capitol on the day of last year's riot was sentenced Friday, April 1, 2022, to nearly four years in prison. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
Pennsylvania man, 2 others charged with clashing with cops in separate Jan. 6 cases
By Wilson Ring/The Associated Press
Three men have been arrested on accusations that they clashed with police officers during separate incidents at the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Federal prosecutors announced charges Wednesday against men from Vermont, Illinois and Pennsylvania — more than two years after the riot that halted the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Nearly 1,000 people across the U.S. have been charged with federal crimes in the Capitol attack and new arrests are still happening nearly every week.
William Nichols, 41, of Manchester, Vermont, was identified through a number of open-source videos and police body-camera images that showed him struggling with police officers outside the Capitol building, prosecutors said.
According to court papers, Nichols is seen in the footage engaging in “violent interactions” with police officers. He is seen “wielding a large circular shield” to hit officers, in one case causing an officer to lose his balance, an affidavit states. In another instance, he is seen using the shield to hit and push several officers, it says.
Defense attorney Michael Desautels said his office represented Nichols for the preliminary proceedings in Vermont, but he did not know who would be representing him in Washington. He did not comment about the specifics of the case. Nichols was arrested in Vermont on Wednesday and appeared in federal court in Rutland, where he was released.
He faces charges including assaulting, resisting or impeding officers as well as civil disorder.
Another man, Joseph Pavlik, 65, of Chicago, whom authorities believe is affiliated with a militia group called “B Squad,” was arrested Tuesday on charges including obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder, according to prosecutors.
Authorities say Pavlik wore a black tactical vest, gas mask and helmet and carried what appeared to be chemical irritant spray during the riot. Pavlik joined a group of rioters that were trying to force their way past officers attempting to secure a Capitol tunnel, prosecutors say. Inside the tunnel, he was seen applying pressure to the police line, according to court papers.
Pavlik was released after a court appearance in Illinois on Tuesday. No attorney was listed in the court docket so it was not immediately clear if Pavlik has a lawyer to comment on his behalf.
A third man, Dustin Sargent, 30, of Kunkletown, Pennsylvania, was also arrested on Wednesday on charges including assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers as well as obstruction of an official proceeding.
Sargent was seen during the riot pushing one officer and grabbing another “in an apparent attempt to physically force these officers and others away from the doors to allow other rioters into the Capitol,” authorities wrote in court papers. In a video, he was heard telling an officer who was trying to keep rioters out of the House Chamber: “You let us in there, you deserve a medal of honor,” authorities say.
Investigators say that records received from Facebook show that two days before the riot, Sargent was asked in a message how he thought the “protest” was going to go. Authorities say Sargent responded that he wanted his wife to be able to come to the hospital if is going to die, and wrote that people in government “may be publicly hung.”
An email seeking comment was sent to an attorney who represented Sargent during his initial court appearance in Pennsylvania.
Charges brought against rioters have ranged from misdemeanor offenses for those who entered the Capitol illegally but didn’t cause damage or assault any officers to felony seditious conspiracy for members of far-right extremist groups accused of plotting to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power.
As of early last month, at least 538 cases had been resolved through guilty pleas, trials, dismissals or the defendant’s death, according to an Associated Press review of court records.
Associated Press reporter Alanna Durkin Richer contributed to this report from Boston.