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Judge orders Proud Boy released from DC Jail over medical issues, fear of retaliation

The order comes a day after the U.S. Marshals Service said it found detainees living in unacceptable conditions in the main D.C. Jail facility.

WASHINGTON — A day after the U.S. Marshals Service said it would transfer approximately 400 federal detainees out of the D.C. Jail, a judge Wednesday released a Proud Boy charged in the Capitol riot over concerns he wouldn’t get adequate medical care.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth called top D.C. Department of Corrections officials into court for the second time in a month to hear his ruling on a bond motion for Christopher Worrell. Lamberth held the warden of the D.C. Jail and the director of the DC DOC in contempt of court last month for ignoring his order to turn over notes from an orthopedic specialist who examined Worrell. The Justice Department says Worrell may have misled the court in framing a cosmetic surgery on his pinky as an emergency.

Worrell, a Naples, Florida, resident, has been in the custody of the D.C. Jail since his arrest in March on multiple felony charges in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. He is accused of joining other members of the Proud Boys in storming the U.S. Capitol Building and of assaulting federal officers with pepper gel spray. In June, Lamberth rejected a bid by Worrell to be released from jail over alleged threats he made against witnesses in his case.

After Lamberth’s contempt order last month, he referred the case to the DOJ for a possible civil rights investigation. His order also prompted the U.S. Marshals Service, which has responsibility for all federal detainees in D.C., to conduct an unannounced inspection at the D.C. Jail’s two facilities, known as the Central Detention Facility (CDF) and Central Treatment Facility (CTF). That inspection found serious issues at the larger CDF building. As a result, the Marshals announced they would move approximately 400 detainees in their custody out of CDF and transfer them to a federal facility in Pennsylvania.

The Marshals said in a statement Monday that the inspection did not find cause to move detainees out of the CTF, which is where the approximately 45 individuals in pretrial detention on charges related to January 6 are being held.

On Wednesday, however, Lamberth said as a result of the inspection he had “zero confidence” D.C. corrections officials would ensure Worrell, who has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, would get the medical care he needs. Lamberth also said he was worried guards at the facility would “retaliate” against Worrell, whose case helped prompt the inspection.

Lamberth ordered Worrell moved to a detention facility in Alexandria while he works out a third-party custodian to supervise his pretrial release. The Justice Department asked for him to be ordered into some form of electronic monitoring while he awaits trial.

Worrell isn’t the only Capitol riot defendant to claim mistreatment in the CTF. In April, Ryan Samsel, a Pennsylvania man accused of knocking over a police officer during the January 6 riot, claimed he was beaten by a corrections officer who zip-tied his hands first. DC DOC denied the alleged assault and said an internal investigation had cleared the officer accused in the attack. 

Neither D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser nor the D.C. Department of Corrections have yet publicly commented about the U.S. Marshals’ report. A DC DOC spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment Wednesday.

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