Jan 6 rioter pleads guilty to assaulting media

Trump supporters walk down Constitution Avenue towards the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Michael Robinson Chavez/Washington Post)

The first rioter in the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol to be charged with attacking a member of the news media pleaded guilty on Friday to charges of assaulting law enforcement and assault on a press photographer. Prosecutors have estimated that he faces a sentence of 33 to 41 months in prison.

Shane Jason Woods, 44, traveled to Washington from Auburn, Illinois, where he owns Auburn Heating and Air. Court records show he was captured on video and in photographs multiple times, from the west and east sides of the Capitol, over a period of several hours. He was arrested on a federal complaint in June 2021 and charged with eight counts of assault and disorderly conduct last March.

Woods is one of 11 rioters charged with assaulting members of the media or destroying their equipment. Journalists and photographers who were stationed in an area behind bike racks were overwhelmed by rioters at one point, leaving valuable equipment behind which was later destroyed.

Some cases do not specifically allege attacks on journalists, and there is no federal law specifically prohibiting attacking a journalist. For example, the Justice Department has charged those who prosecuted reporters or their equipment on Jan. 6 with committing acts of violence within the restricted grounds of the Capitol or destroying property on Capitol grounds.

According to an FBI affidavit, Woods was first captured on video from the west side of the Capitol around 2:10 p.m. Several officers were trying to arrest a struggling rioter when someone pepper sprayed the officers, said the FBI.

A United States Capitol police officer, described as “Officer A”, told officers that as she ran towards the person with the bear spray, Woods tripped her and killed her. shoved him to the ground, sending him crashing into a downed bicycle barricade. The officer felt immediate pain and the next day she felt like she had been “run over by a truck”, the statement of facts seized on Friday said.

The affidavit says the officer lost his helmet and was surrounded by other rioters until another officer came to his aid.

Woods’ whereabouts for the next three hours were not specified, but as of 5 p.m., the FBI affidavit shows him in the mostly abandoned media area at the northeast corner of the Capitol. , “standing with protesters who shout and spit at members of the news media”. “, then discard some of the abandoned equipment.

A news photographer identified as “GP” was trying to leave the area to protect himself and his camera, according to the statement of facts. Woods got off to a quick start and hit GP “with a blind shoulder tackle, knocking GP to the ground and causing him to drop his camera.” The extent of the photographer’s injuries was not known.

The U.S. District Attorney’s Office said Thursday that 870 people were arrested for their actions on Jan. 6, 2021, and 269 of them are charged with assaulting law enforcement. About 140 officers, 80 from Capitol police and 60 from DC police, were assaulted that day, prosecutors said.

Twenty-eight people have pleaded guilty to assaulting law enforcement and 14 have been convicted so far. The average sentence for assault on law enforcement is 47 months, according to a Washington Post database.