A Kentucky man who used a flagpole to batter a door near the House chamber during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was found guilty in federal court in Washington on Wednesday on nine counts, including civil disorder and disruption of an official proceeding, prosecutors said.
Chad Barrett Jones, 45, of Mount Washington, Ky., was part of a standoff in the Speaker’s Lobby that ended in the death of Ashli Babbitt, 35, an Air Force veteran who was fatally shot by a Capitol Police lieutenant as rioters tried to breach the House chamber, prosecutors said. During the encounter, which was captured on video from multiple angles, rioters came close enough to lock eyes with lawmakers, separated only by a few officers and antique wood-and-glass doors.
Judge Richard J. Leon of the Federal District Court in Washington found Mr. Jones guilty after a bench trial on two felony and seven misdemeanor charges, including the destruction of government property. The judge denied the government’s request to treat the flagpole that Mr. Jones was carrying as a dangerous weapon, reducing four of the six felony counts that he had initially faced to misdemeanors.
“We were disappointed in the verdict, but we understand and respect the judge’s decision,” William Brennan, a lawyer for Mr. Jones, said in an interview.
“And we certainly agree with the judge’s analysis regarding the flagpole as not being a dangerous weapon,” he added.
Mr. Jones is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 8. The most serious charge, obstruction of an official proceeding, carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. So far, the most severe penalty in the federal investigation of the Capitol attack is the 18-year sentence imposed in May on Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, for his role in helping to mobilize the riot.
Federal prosecutors said Mr. Jones traveled to Washington from his home in Kentucky to take part in the “Stop the Steal” rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021, part of the effort by Donald J. Trump, then the president, to overturn the results of the presidential election that he lost.
After Mr. Jones joined a crowd that stormed the Capitol building, he breached a restricted area and eventually ended up in the Speaker’s Lobby, a hallway and waiting area attached to the House chamber, prosecutors said. There he found himself at the front of a crowd that was trying to break through a set of antique wooden doors.
Mr. Jones appears in many videos wearing a red-hooded jacket, thrusting a flagpole with a flag wrapped around it into the battered pane of the barricaded door. He struck the door nine times as the surrounding mob shouted, “Break it down,” prosecutors said. When a woman nearby, later identified as Ms. Babbitt, tried to vault through a broken window, a Capitol Police lieutenant on the other side of the door shot and killed her.
The encounter turned Ms. Babbitt into a martyr-like figure among far-right activists and Trump supporters. Mr. Trump himself has called her a “great patriot” and the lieutenant who shot her a “thug.” (After a three-month investigation, the Justice Department determined that charges against the lieutenant were not warranted.)
The Justice Department has arrested more than 1,000 people as part of its investigation into the Jan. 6 attacks. In June, a federal judge sentenced a rioter to more than 12 years in prison for assaulting a police officer, one of the harshest sentences handed down so far. And on Monday, an Arkansas man who, in a fit of rage, used a flagpole to beat a police officer outside the Capitol was sentenced to more than four years in prison.
Mr. Jones was convicted as federal prosecutors, led by the special counsel Jack Smith, were moving closer to bringing an indictment against Mr. Trump in connection with his wide-ranging efforts to overturn the 2020 election.