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Capitol Riot ‘QAnon Shaman’ Out Of Prison Early, New Videos Raise Questions About Sentencing

Phoenix, AZ – The “QAnon Shaman,” a bare-chested, tattooed rioter who forced his way into the U.S. Capitol wearing red, white, and blue face paint and a horned headdress on Jan. 6, 2021, was released from federal prison early and has been transferred to a halfway house.

Jacob Chansley, 35, has been described as the poster boy of the U.S. Capitol riots, the New York Post reported.

He is also known in media reports as the “QAnon Shaman.”

Chansley pleaded guilty to a federal charge of obstruction of an official proceeding in September of 2021 and was sentenced to 41 months in jail two months later, according to CBS News.

He was given credit for time served and was eligible to earn sentence reductions while behind bars, just like any other federal inmate.

Chansley was initially expected to remain in lockup until July, CBS News reported.

He was transferred last week from the FCI Stafford federal prison to the 70-bed Phoenix Residential Reentry Center, where he shares a room with six others, according to the New York Post.

Chansley is scheduled to be released from the halfway house on May 25.

He is one of approximately 1,000 people who were criminally charged in connection with the U.S. Capitol riots, CBS News reported.

Chansley and a small group of other rioters even gained access to the Senate chamber during the incident, where he sat at the Senate president’s desk and took photos of himself on the dais.

He also left a note that read, “It’s Only A Matter of Time. Justice Is Coming!”

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson broadcast footage from that day on his show last month that showed police escorting Chansley through the Capitol, Politico reported.

The video showed officers opening a door to the Senate wing for him at one point, and did not indicate any signs of a struggle or confrontation between him and police.

Chansley was not accused of using violence during the incident, Politico reported.

He also claimed he told other rioters not to loot the Capitol building and that his interactions with police were positive throughout the incident.

Prosecutors alleged Carlson cherry-picked a brief, four-minute clip that left out the full scope of Chansley’s criminal behavior that day, Politico reported.

“…Chansley had, amongst other acts, breached a police line at 2:09 p.m. with the mob, entered the Capitol… during the initial breach of the building, and faced off with members of the U.S. Capitol Police for more than thirty minutes in front of the Senate Chamber doors while elected officials, including the Vice President of the United States, were fleeing from the chamber,” prosecutors said in documents filed in a separate criminal case, according to Politico.

“In sum, Chansley was not some passive, chaperoned observer of events for the roughly hour that he was unlawfully inside the Capitol,” they argued.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said that back in September of 2021 it provided Chansley’s attorney with all but 10 seconds of the footage later aired by Carlson, Politico reported.

He had already pleaded guilty, but he had not yet been sentenced – a move his current attorney, William Shipley, said may have violated his client’s rights.

Shipley alleged the DOJ has been “oddly silent” regarding whether it met its burden to provide Chansley’s previous attorney with specific videos, Politico reported.

“The Government knows its lawful obligations, and artfully avoided making a positive assertion that it complied with them in a timely fashion as to Mr. Chansley,” Shipley told the news outlet in an email.

Chansley’s former attorney, Al Watkins, said the footage could have potentially changed how the judge viewed his client at the time of sentencing.

“Remember, the DOJ characterized Jake as the face of insurrection,” Watkins told Politico. “The assertion that the nondisclosure of the exculpatory footage was a ‘whoops’ moment is nothing short of unconscionable.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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