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'The last straw' | After months of curfew violations and threats, DOJ wants Proud Boy locked up

Federal prosecutors say Joshua Pruitt has shown he won't abide by court-ordered restrictions while he awaits trial on charges related to January 6.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice wants a Proud Boy and former D.C. resident’s bond revoked after months of alleged probation violations while he awaits trial on Capitol riot charges.

Joshua Pruitt is one of a small number of defendants in January 6 cases who actually lived in D.C. (he has since moved to Tennessee). He was arrested on January 6 for violating the mayor’s curfew, and was subsequently indicted on eight charges – including felony charges of obstruction and civil disorder – for his alleged role in the January 6 Capitol riot.

In charging documents, prosecutors say Pruitt entered the Capitol shortly after the initial breach of the building by another Proud Boy, Dominic Pezzola. Surveillance video captured Pruitt throwing a “Quiet Please” sign across the atrium. In the Crypt, prosecutors say, Pruitt was part of a pack of people who confronted Capitol Police officers.

“The officers engaged Pruitt and the pack, who then disappeared off-screen; an officer then reappeared, dragged by another back to safety,” prosecutors wrote in a motion filed with the court Thursday. “Pruitt later bragged after the incident that his ‘hand is swollen, cop came at [him] for no reason so… I dropped his a**.’”

Credit: Department of Justice
Joshua Pruitt, a Proud Boy and former D.C. resident, seen standing on a Black Lives Matter sign and throwing a sign inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

According to prosecutors, Pruitt was already on probation in both Maryland and Georgia – and in fact was wearing a court-ordered GPS monitor – when he breached the Capitol.

Pruitt was granted pretrial release under a high-intensity supervision program after his arrest in January. His release conditions include staying away from U.S. Capitol grounds, not possessing a firearm and a 10 p.m. – 6 a.m. curfew.

According to a brief filed Thursday by the Justice Department, Pruitt has violated those conditions multiple times. Prosecutors said pretrial services had noted “multiple curfew infractions” and failures to report by phone in January, March and August, as well as a report of a domestic disturbance at his residence.

Pruitt was sentenced in November for two violations of civil protection orders in D.C. and given 12 months probation and a 180 days suspended. According to the DOJ, in a victim impact statement in that case, Pruitt’s former girlfriend described fear that Pruitt would hit her and receiving a “barrage” of text messages and video clips, including threats, “some of which depict Pruitt playing with a knife or standing outside her apartment building.”

Prosecutors said pretrial services and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. have also received multiple reports about Pruitt engaging in threatening behavior over social media platforms. In various messages, Pruitt allegedly threatened to put someone “six feet under” and said in another, in reference to the rounds in a Glock-19, that, “I have 30 friends waiting for you.” In still another message, prosecutors say, he warned, “[Expletive] around and watch your pulse disappear princess.”

On Tuesday, pretrial services filed a report with U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly advising him of seven additional alleged curfew violations. The report includes a third recommendation from pretrial services that Pruitt be removed from the high-intensity supervision program and be placed in custody.

Prosecutors say Pruitt’s prior criminal history – which includes 19 prior arrests and eight convictions – show that he won’t abide by court ordered restrictions.

“The curfew violations here are the last straw,” prosecutors wrote. “Pruitt violated both probation and pretrial release conditions the moment he set foot in the Capitol. “Breaching the Capitol while being on GPS monitoring displayed a brazen disregard for the rule of law. When he was arrested that night, defendant was not honest with police: he told them he had sought to de-escalate. Throwing furniture is not de-escalating. From January 6, then, there were strong indications that Pruitt was not amenable to supervision, based on his criminal history and his conduct that day. There were also indications of danger, as seen in the violent images Pruitt posted and his confrontations with law enforcement and destruction of property on January 6.”

Prosecutors also said Pruitt had admitted in an interview with CNN aired Wednesday “to a willingness to storm the Capitol again (but for the risk of getting caught).”

“He appears unable to refrain from threatening others and is unrepentant regarding his actions on January 6,” prosecutors wrote. “The Court has trusted Pruitt for the past year, and Pruitt has abused that trust. The government respectfully requests that the Court revoke Pruitt’s pretrial release.”

If Kelly declines to revoke Pruitt’s pretrial release, the DOJ asks he be ordered to abstain from alcohol use and to stay off social media.

Pruitt is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday for arguments on the government's motion.

We're tracking all of the arrests, charges and investigations into the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Sign up for our Capitol Breach Newsletter here so that you never miss an update.