Capitol riot suspect requested solitary confinement to avoid ‘cult-like’ fellow 6 January prisoners

Judge Amy Berman Jackson says case calls into question how Capitol riot defendants are housed

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 27 October 2021 20:28

Related Video: Rioters attack Officer Michael Fanone under Blue Lives Matter flag

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A judge will allow one of the Capitol rioters accused of assaulting DC police officer Michael Fanone to await trial at home with his family.

US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Thomas Sibick can stay with his parents in upstate New York provided he watches no political television shows and is kept in a “calm environment”.

Mr Sibick has been detained since March and had previously been denied bond.

Law & Crime reports that during the most recent court proceedings relating to his case, it was revealed that he had asked to be separated from other 6 January inmates who were described as “cult-like” and a “radical unit”.

Mr Sibick and two others were indicted in April for the brutal assault of Officer Fanone, who was beaten and electro-shocked by the pro-Trump mob who stormed the Capitol.

He was accused of stealing the officer’s badge and buried it in his backyard. It was retrieved and a picture of it covered in mud is included in court papers.

Judge Jackson asked where Mr Sibick had gotten the information that led him to join the 6 January mob.

Stephen Brennwald, Mr Sibick’s lawyer, said that his client had been watching Fox News, apparently surprised that it had not been OANN or Newsmax, adding that Mr Sibick had been going through a manic phase.

While prosecutors did not believe there was any reason to reconsider Mr Sibick’s bond status, Judge Jackson believed that a new mental health diagnosis, steps taken to address it, and his decision to self-isolate in prison were of the necessary merit.

Mr Brennwald said that a group of rioters also detained at the DC Correctional Treatment Facility would sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” every night at 9pm and that his client had told him they would be angry if he didn’t join in.

“It was literally this herd mentality,” the lawyer added. “They’re literally singing, most of them off-key, literally singing the song, almost cult-like. It was pretty scary actually.”

Mr Brennwald said that Mr Sibick had requested to be put in isolation [the hole] in order to avoid dealing with these other inmates.

“His biggest fear is, ‘If I don’t get out, what do I do?’ He’s in a hole. He shouldn’t have to be in a hole because he’s trying to avoid a radical unit,” the attorney said.

Judge Jackson said she felt that the defendant had shown by his actions that he chose to separate himself from other detainees to resist pressure in what she called a “toxic environment” even if that meant enduring harsher conditions.

She added that it also raised questions regarding how 6 January defendants are housed together.

Judge Jackson was appointed to the bench by former President Barack Obama in 2011 and oversaw the cases of Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, both associates of former President Donald Trump.

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