Christopher Worrell pepper spraying police officers during Jan. 6 Capitol Riot
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Wednesday ruled that a part of the far-right Proud Boys militia group accused of using chemical spray police during the Capitol riot will stay in jail while he awaits his courtroom.
A three-judge panel denied Christopher Worrell’s emergency motion to reconsider a month’s district court judgment. Even though it appears the court doesn’t see precedential value in the judgment (see: Circuit Rule 36, unpublished opinions), it is a very clear signal that the country’s second-most powerful court isn’t going to be more lenient in cases of Jan. 6 defendants that are accused of endangering police officers.
Worrell, that resides and was arrested in Florida, was charged in March with a litany of federal crimes including”carry[ing] a deadly and dangerous weapon” on restricted grounds. According to the charging documents, Worrell moved to D.C. using a tactical vest using a canister of gel-based pepper spray cut to the front. Video footage from that day also seemed to reveal him spraying the chemical compound at police officers trying to stymie the insurrection.
In his crisis appeal motion, Worrell contended the chemical compound wasn’t a”dangerous weapon,” and were he to be discharged he would not present a direct threat to the neighborhood.
The court drew a distinction between its initial judgment on pretrial detention for accused Capitol rioters and the circumstances at Worrell’s case.
The Circuit Court in March gave so-called”Zip Tie Guy” Eric Munchel–seen from the Senate room carrying strategic restraints–along with his mom Lisa Eisenhart an opportunity for pre-trial release in a judgment reiterating a long established principle, writing,”In our society, liberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial is an exception.”
Wednesday’s per curiam decision distinguished Munchel’s case from Worrell’s, justification the latter failed to oppose the lower court’s determination he was reckless.
“In contrast to the defendants at Munchel, as the district court here found, appellant’actually attacked police officers’ using pepper spray gel. And appellant has not shown that this finding was clearly wrong,” the court wrote. “The district court’s dangerousness determination is further buttressed by the risks against others–including potential witnesses–which appellant indicated to the FBI, as well as his membership alleged and in coordination using all the Proud Boys, a number of whose members have been imprisoned for conspiring to assault Congress.”
Additionally, Worrell on Tuesday asked the district court judge to move his trial outside Washington, D.C., claiming that”destructive” press coverage of this insurrection and”community prejudice” inside the country’s capital would unconstitutionally preclude him from receiving a fair trial.
“An investigation at Washington D.C. for Mr. Worrell are by jurors who voted almost unanimously against Donald Trump, who have been barraged with propaganda on a’white nationalist’ assault, that are told they were victims of an’insurrection,’ who were placed under curfew and locked down as a consequence, and who have been placed under seemingly endless military hold due to danger posed by’Domestic Violent Extremists,”’ the longshot motion said. “The inevitable community prejudice, and particularized prejudice against Mr. Worrell, leave the venire so heavily prejudiced against him Mr. Worrell cannot get a fair and impartial trial at Washington D.C.”
Read the entire Circuit Court judgment under.
Worrell Detention Ruling by Law&Crime on Scribd
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