Thursday, September 28, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, September 28, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Man Who Sat at Pelosi’s Desk Not Getting Out of Jail

Richard Barnett will remain behind bars pending his trial on multiple charges, including a felony count of knowingly entering the Capitol with a dangerous weapon.

(CN) — A federal judge on Thursday blocked the release of the rioter who was gleefully photographed with his feet up on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk during the violent mob attack in Washington earlier this month, calling his actions “a total disregard for the U.S. Constitution.”

The ruling reverses an Arkansas federal magistrate’s order two weeks ago releasing Richard Barnett, 60, to home detention on a $5,000 unsecured bond. Barnett, who has been in custody since turning himself into authorities on Jan. 8, will remain behind bars pending his trial on multiple charges, including a felony count of knowingly entering the Capitol with a dangerous weapon.

“His entitled behavior that he exhibited in videos and photographs when inside the Capitol shows a total disregard for the law and for officials’ directives, a total disregard for the U.S. Constitution,” said Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Beryl Howell in a blistering rebuke of the assault on Congress. “This violence disrupted a constitutional function of Congress.”

Prosecutors say the Arkansas man purchased a high-voltage Zap Hike N Strike hiking staff from Bass Pro Shop six days before the riot, along with two bottles of pepper spray and two packages containing three two-way radios.

He traveled alone to Washington D.C. to participate in the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally and subsequent attack on the Capitol, prosecutors said, adding that he turned locations services off on his cell phone, used cash on the trip and took steps to conceal his face on his way back to Arkansas the day after the incident.

Widely circulated photos of Barnett with his feet propped up on a desk in Pelosi’s office, with a stun gun attached to his hip, have become some of the most memorable images from the attack.

According to court documents, Barnett turned over the sealed envelope that he admitted taking from Pelosi’s office, but told federal agents that they may not find much at his residence because he “is a smart man.” Prosecutors say they still cannot locate Barnett’s cellphone or weapons, and that he has two dates of birth listed.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Dohrman told Howell during Thursday’s detention hearing that Barnett deserves to remain behind bars due to his “brazen” actions, which he “bragged publicly about.”

“The defendant’s release to the community after having so flagrantly flouted the laws and carried a dangerous weapon into the U.S. Capitol during official proceedings would tend to embolden and invigorate individuals with plans to possess or carry dangerous weapons in and around Capitol grounds,” Dohrman argued.

“He’s certainly a braggart,” Howell, a Barack Obama appointee, said when delivering her ruling. Barnett was transferred to Washington D.C. after the government appealed the Jan. 15 ruling releasing him to home detention.

“The government has presented overwhelming evidence that this defendant, Richard Barnett, enthusiastically participated in this assault on the Capitol,” the judge said.

Barnett faces more than 11 years in prison. A status conference in the case is scheduled for Feb. 2 before a different magistrate judge.

Follow @@eidelagarza
Categories / Courts, Criminal

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.