An Arkansas man caught on video beating a Washington, D.C., cop with an American flagpole during the Capitol riots was charged on Thursday.
Peter Francis Stager has been charged with obstructing a law enforcement officer for allegedly beating a Metropolitan Police officer who was guarding an entrance of the U.S. Capitol.
Prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint that members of the MAGA mob who stormed the building last Wednesday grabbed the officer, dragged him down a flight of stairs, and forced him into a “prone position,” before “forcibly and repeatedly” hitting him in the head and body with “various objects.”
Video footage shows Stager with a large group on the stairs of the Capitol building and holding a flagpole. Another video shows Stager hit the officer while he “remained prone on the steps.” The FBI said they learned of Stager’s identity from a confidential informant who saw the videos on social media.
“Everybody in there is a treasonous traitor. Death is the only remedy for what’s in that building,” Stager can be heard saying in a second video, according to the criminal complaint.
A second informant confirmed Stager’s involvement, stating that they had spoken with Stager after the Jan. 6 insurrection and Stager said it was him in the videos.
The second informant said that Stager claimed he “did not know the man he was struck on the ground with the flagpole was a cop and that he thought the person he was striking was Antifa.”
The officer was easily identifiable, however, as he was wearing a uniform with the words “METROPOLITAN POLICE” across his back, prosecutors said. Stager allegedly told the second informant he planned to turn himself in and apologized for assaulting a member of law enforcement.
Stager insisted to the second informant he was “‘wired up’ from being either pepper-sprayed or tear-gassed and that was why he made the comments he did on camera.”
Joshua Black, from Leeds, Alabama, was also charged with violent entry and entering restricted grounds on Thursday after claiming he wanted to storm the Capitol so he could “plead the blood of Jesus over it.”
“Once we found out Pence turned on us and that they had stolen the election like officially, the crowd went crazy. I mean, it became a mob. We crossed the gate,” Black said in a YouTube video, according to a criminal complaint.
The court documents say Black was one of several rioters who stormed the Senate chambers and was photographed inside with a red MAGA hat and a bloody cheek. Black later admitted that he was on the Senate floor—and had brought a knife with him.
“I actually had a knife on me, but they never...I had too much clothes on, it was freezing out there, you know, so. I never, I wasn’t planning on pulling it. I just carry a knife because I do,” Black explained, according to the complaint. “I just, you’re not allowed to carry guns in D.C. and I don’t like being defenseless.”
Black said in the YouTube video that “the spirit of God” wanted him to storm the Senate. He claimed he almost broke a window inside the Capitol building, but stopped because “this is our house, we don’t act like that.”
“I was tempted to, I’m not gonna lie,” he said. “Cause I’m pretty upset. You know? They stole my country.”
John Earl Sullivan, a 26-year-old founder of Insurgence USA, a social justice group set up to protest police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death, was also arrested and charged on Thursday.
Sullivan filmed hours of footage at the riot, which he uploaded to YouTube, including the moment Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot.
According to the criminal complaint, he claimed to the FBI that he was an anti-Trump activist and journalist who was simply there to document the protest. However, prosecutors say he has no press credentials, is not affiliated with any media outlet, and was overheard in his own video egging on the destruction.
At various points in his video, he helps rioters scale a wall to get into the Capitol, apologizes for breaking a window, and tells rioters who are trying to smash another window that he has a knife, the complaint says.
At another point, he is heard saying, “Let’s burn this shit down.”
As he films someone trying to break through an unmarked door, Sullivan says, “That’s what I’m sayin’, break that shit,” then later adds, “It would be fire if someone had revolutionary music and shit.”
“We accomplished this shit. We did this together. Fuck yeah! We are all a part of this history,” he says at another point.
Sullivan, who gave several interviews to major TV networks about what he saw during the riot, has been charged with entering a restricted building or ground, civil disorders, and violent entry.
A slew of MAGA supporters were arrested on Thursday, including a retired Pennsylvania firefighter accused of throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three police officers, a man photographed holding a Confederate flag inside the Capitol, and a former school therapist who stormed the Senate Chamber.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Thursday that federal authorities have identified more than 200 suspects and arrested more than 100 people. “So we know who you are if you’re out there, and FBI agents are coming to find you,” he said.