- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 18, 2021

A grand jury returned an indictment unsealed Wednesday that charges three men over the assault of a D.C. police officer beaten on the steps of the U.S. Capitol last month.

Each of the defendants — Jeffrey Sabol, Peter Francis Stager and Michael John Lopatic Sr. — faces charges related to the assault of an officer identified in documents only by their initials, B.M.

Images showing the Metropolitan Police Department officer being dragged and beaten on the steps of the Capitol were among the more viral scenes to emerge in the immediate aftermath of the rioting on Jan. 6.

Each of the defendants was arrested in the weeks afterward, placing their names on a growing list of more than 200 people so far suspected of federal crimes related to the storming of the Capitol.

Mr. Stager, of Arkansas, is suspected of using a flagpole “to repeatedly strike B.M. while B.M. remained prone on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building,” the FBI said in charging documents.

Two people close to Mr. Stager identified him to authorities before he was arrested on Jan. 14, an FBI special agent said in a statement of facts.

Mr. Sabol, of Colorado, crashed his car in New York following a failed suicide attempt and told responding police that he had been “fighting tyranny” in D.C., the FBI said in charging documents.

A jacket and backpack found in the car are the same investigators allege Mr. Sabol can be seen wearing in videos showing him dragging B.M. down the stairs and with a baton to the officer’s neck.

The FBI said Mr. Sobol later acknowledged he was the individual seen in the photos and video, but “could not recall if he hit the police officer with the baton because he was in a fit of rage.”

Mr. Lopatic, of Pennsylvania, was arrested at his residence on Feb. 3, at which point the FBI says he confessed to stealing a body-worn camera from B.M. and disposing of it on his way home.

Additionally, Mr. Lopatic is accused of repeatedly assaulting another MPD officer, identified in court documents only by their initials, C.M., before stealing the camera and later ditching it.

“That the defendant had the foresight to traverse an angry mob to take what would have been a crucial piece of evidence in bringing those who attacked the officers — and the Capitol — to justice shows that he was not merely swept up by the passions of the day,” federal prosecutors argued in a court filing last week seeking pretrial detention for Mr. Lopatic. A magistrate judge agreed.

The defendants were charged in a 14-count indictment handed down by a federal grand jury that had been sworn in on Jan. 8, two days after the violent events on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Sabol and Mr. Stager each face one count of assaulting a police officer using a deadly weapon for allegedly striking B.M. with a flagpole and baton, respectively, among other charges.

All three of the defendants also face charges of civil disorder for allegedly attempting to prevent B.M from performing their official duties, in addition to one count each of violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, among others.

It was not clear when they would be arraigned.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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