Trial begins for Virginia man accused of using pepper spray to attack police during Capitol insurrection
Opening arguments and testimony began on Tuesday in the jury trial .
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The jury trial has begun for a Virginia man accused of using pepper spray on police during the January 6, 2021 Capitol insurrection.
Documents submitted to federal court claim video shows Markus Maly of Fincastle spraying what appears to be pepper spray on a “line of officers” who were attempting to secure the lower West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol. Prosecutors allege Maly also teamed up with two other people that day. Those two men are on trial with Maly.
“They coordinated their attack and they all went home to brag about it,” a prosecutor for the U.S. Justice Department told the jury in opening arguments Tuesday.
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Prosecutors said Maly was also captured on video inside a U.S. Capitol tunnel area holding what appears to be a riot shield.
According to the documents, Maly messaged his girlfriend in response to her concern about violence at the Capitol. In those messages, he allegedly wrote, “I know …I’ve got stories though,” and “I was so fun …,” “It..” The next day, those court documents claim, he went on to post in a social media conversation, “I stood my ground and went back for seconds and thirds even.”
Following opening arguments Tuesday, prosecutors called Capitol police officers to testify on the stand.
Maly’s lawyer, Benjamin Schiffelbein, told the jury “Markus Maly is not guilty.” He argues Maly did not come to the Capitol that day with a plan to disrupt Congress. Instead, he said Maly caught a bus from Roanoke armed only with ham sandwiches. He added it was President Trump who told protestors to go to the Capitol that day and that Maly was following the crowd. As for the pepper spray, Maly’s attorney argues Maly did not know what was in the canister and that he didn’t spray officers. He said Maly also gave the riot shield he is pictured holding back to police later that day.
Investigations of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th led to the arrests of more than 725 people across nearly all 50 states. More than 225 of those people were charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.
The U.S. Capitol breach on January 6, 2021 forced Congress to evacuate on the day when lawmakers are scheduled to count the electoral college ballots and certify Joe Biden’s election victory as the next president. Lawmakers returned that night to finish the certification once the complex was secured by DC Metropolitan Police, the National Guard and U.S. Capitol Police.
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