WASHINGTON — A federal judge took up competing claims of assault Thursday as attorneys closed their arguments in the case of a Maryland man accused of forcibly resisting attempts to remove him from the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6.
Daniel Dean Egtvedt, of Garrett County, Maryland, began a bench trial Monday before U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on nine criminal counts, including felony counts of assaulting, resisting or impeding police, civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding.
Egtvedt, a former Virginia resident and Republican donor, attended former President Donald Trump’s speech at the Ellipse on the morning of Jan. 6 and then joined thousands of fellow Trump supporters in marching to the Capitol. He then entered the building during the second breach of the Senate Wing doors and traveled across the length of the Capitol before being forcefully removed by police following an altercation in the Hall of Columns on the building’s south side.
The Justice Department’s case was largely straightforward. Prosecutors Michael Charles Liebman and Colleen Kukowski showed a series of videos of Egtvedt urging others to come to the Capitol, berating police and calling them “traitors” and, less than 30 minutes later, screaming “Shoot me!” at officers who were attempting to direct him out of the Hall of Columns. Even after being removed from the building, prosecutors said, Egtvedt appeared to attempt to reenter through two other doors and was still on the grounds at the front of a line of police hours later. Liebman and Kukowksi also showed jailhouse letters Egtvedt wrote and statements he made to police after his arrest about his intention to fight if they attempted to transport him to D.C. – evidence, they suggested, of his belligerence and attitudes toward law enforcement.
Egtvedt’s attorneys, Kira Anne West and Nicole Anne Cubbage, argued Egtvedt was a victim throughout the day of multiple unprovoked assaults from U.S. Capitol Police and of government overreach from the prosecution. During closing arguments, West focused Cooper’s attention on what she saw as two key moments: an unidentified officer spraying Egtvedt in the face with o.c. spray before he entered the building; and USCP Officer Melissa Marshall putting her hand on his chest to stop him from reentering the Hall of Columns approximately 25 minutes later.
“If Daniel Dean Egtvedt hadn’t been sprayed in his eyes point-blank with o.c. spray, maybe we wouldn’t be here,” West said, arguing what she portrayed as an unwarranted pepper spraying “negates intent on all charges.”
The officer who sprayed Egtvedt was never identified and was not able to be called as a witness. Multiple other officers testified, however, that they either personally directed Egtvedt out of the building or witnessed other officers do so.
A grand jury indicted Egtvedt on two counts of assaulting, resisting or impeding police for an altercation in the Hall of Columns in which multiple officers attempted, with little success, to restrain him from moving further back into the building after reaching the exit. During the scuffle, Egtvedt fell and struck the back of his head on a marble column. West said the blow caused a concussion and has had lingering effects on Egtvedt’s health. She criticized the police response, pointing out no officers can be heard on bodyworn camera offering Egtvedt medical aid.
“What it reminded me of when I watched it was how a pack of hyenas surrounds their prey and attacks it from all angles,” West said.
Liebman said it took multiple officers to restrain Egtvedt’s more than 6’ and 300 lbs. frame because he ignored their orders to stop and seemed intent on barreling past them.
“The idea that [Marshall] somehow assaulted this man is beyond belief,” Liebman said.
Liebman also rejected West’s argument that being pepper sprayed before he entered the building somehow absolved Egtvedt of responsibility for his actions.
“If anything, the fact that he was sprayed and came into the Capitol anyway, that shows his intent,” Liebman said. “That shows what he wanted to do, which was to stop the certification.”
Cooper, a 2013 nominee of former President Barack Obama, seemed skeptical during closing arguments about the defense’s position that Egtvedt had no motive for entering the building. Cooper asked the defense at one point if they wanted him to believe Egtvedt had gone inside “devoid of any purpose.” West responded she believed he literally wanted his voice to be heard, but had no specific message to convey. In an earlier ruling releasing Egtvedt on bond, Cooper said he didn’t believe Egtvedt was violent on Jan. 6 — however, the statute Egtvedt was charged under allows Cooper to find he resisted, opposed, impeded, intimidated or interfered with police without an assault taking place.
Cooper said he expected to deliver his verdict next week, but did not set a specific day to do so.
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