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Capitol riot suspect 'viciously' beaten in jail, may lose sight, attorney says

An attorney for Ryan Samsel says he suffered a broken orbital floor and dislocated jaw in the alleged attack.

WASHINGTON — An attorney for a Capitol riot defendant says her client was “savagely” beaten by a guard while in custody at the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility and may lose sight in one eye because of his injuries.

Elisabeth Pasqualini is one of the lawyers representing Ryan Samsel, a Pennsylvania man accused of pushing over barriers and knocking down a police officer – causing her to suffer a concussion – during the Capitol riot.

Samsel has been in federal custody since his arrest in January on charges of forcibly assaulting or interfering with a federal agent, obstructing an official proceeding and obstructing an officer.

This week, another Capitol riot defendant, Ronald Sandlin, told a federal judge during a bail hearing that Samsel was one of a number of defendants in the case who had experienced violence from D.C. correctional officers.

In an interview with WUSA9, Pasqualini said Samsel had been “viciously and savagely” beaten by a corrections officer who zip-tied his hands first. She says she was only alerted to the alleged attack when two attorneys representing other defendants contacted her and said her client had gotten “a beatdown” by a guard and was in the hospital.

“He has definitely suffered serious injuries, including a shattered orbital floor, a broken orbital bone, his jaw was broken, his nose was broken,” Pasqualini said. According to Pasqualini, Samsel is currently unable to see out of his right eye and may permanently lose vision in it.

Even before the alleged assault, Pasqualini says her client was being held in lockdown for 23 hours a day and was having difficulty getting access to hygiene supplies and the shower. She says he has since been moved to another jail facility, where he remains under lockdown.

Pasqualini says she reported the alleged assault to jail officials, who told her they are conducting an internal investigation. She also reported it to the FBI, which, she said, told her it was investigating as well.

A spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington Field Office told WUSA9 in an emailed statement that the agency was aware of the allegations but that “as a matter of policy we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.”

Samsel is not the first Capitol riot defendant to allege poor conditions during confinement – although his allegations are the most serious.

Last month, alleged Oath Keeper organizer Thomas Caldwell was released on bond, in part because, his lawyer said, he has been confined to a wheelchair as a result of not having access to orthopedic treatment while in custody.

Pasqualini said she is not currently planning to file a motion asking for Samsel’s release because the state of Pennsylvania has a detainer on him due to his parole status on January 6 when he is accused of participating in the Capitol riot.

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