Monday, January 30, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Marine accused of pushing cop during Capitol riot pleads not guilty to new charges

Prosecutors say Christopher Warnagiris held open a door so fellow rioters could force their way into the U.S. Capitol and pushed a police officer who tried to move him out of the way.

WASHINGTON (CN) – An active-duty U.S. Marine Corps major pleaded not guilty Wednesday to all nine charges in a superseding indictment over his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Christopher Warnagiris, 40, of Woodbridge, Virginia, is accused of being among the first rioters to breach a police line in front of the doors of the Capitol East Rotunda. 

Once inside, prosecutors say he used his body to hold open a door so fellow rioters could push their way into the building. And when a Capitol Police officer tried to push him out of the way, Warnagiris allegedly pushed back. 

Warnagiris is the highest-ranking active-duty military officer to be charged in connection with the insurrection. He has been stationed at the Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia since the summer of 2020, according to court records.

During Wednesday’s virtual arraignment hearing, Warnagiris pleaded not guilty to nine charges including civil disorder; obstruction of an official proceeding; assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.

He also pleaded not guilty to the same charges in the initial indictment filed last May in Washington federal court. U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman, a Bill Clinton appointee, is presiding over the case.

According to court documents, when Warnagaris made it through the Capitol building doors, others followed “one by one, each having to fight and push their way past the officers who were still attempting to physically block the entrance.”

Amid the struggle, Capitol Police officers tried to reposition themselves from outside the doorway to inside. One officer told investigators he ordered Warnagiris to get out of the doorway. When he did not comply, the officer pushed the Marine, who responded by “pushing him back in an effort to maintain his position in the open door," court records state.

Warnagiris was reportedly wearing a dark jacket with bright green zippers, a military green backpack and black and tan gloves during the riot. A tipster who served in the military with him recognized him in photos of the insurrection posted online and subsequently told the FBI.

He was arrested last May while on active duty at the Quantico base. Prosecutors did not seek his detention pending trial, so he was released the following month.

His attorney, Marina Medvin of Virginia-based Medvin Law PLC, declined to comment on the case in an email Wednesday.

Warnagiris is scheduled to appear in court again for a status conference hearing on May 20. 

He is among more than 775 people who have been charged in connection with the Capitol riot so far, according to the Department of Justice.

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.

Loading
Loading...