Washington, DC – An Arkansas man has been federally indicted on multiple counts after investigators identified him as the suspect seen beating a police officer with the pole of an American flag during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot.
According to the federal grand jury indictment, which was unsealed on Wednesday, 41-year-old Peter Francis Stager used the flagpole as a “deadly or dangerous weapon” in order to “forcibly assault, resist, impose, impede, intimidate and interfere with an officer,” the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
The DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer, identified only as Officer “B.M.,” was stationed outside the Capitol building in an archway when the chaos erupted, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent Jason Coe said in the statement of facts.
According to Agent Coe, the officer said he saw hundreds of people gathered outside, including some who “were throwing and swinging various objects at the group of law enforcement officers,” the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.’
Officer B.M., who was in full uniform, was standing in the archway in an effort to block rioters from breaching the Capitol when “some of these individuals grabbed B.M. and dragged him down the stairs of the Capitol building,” Agent Coe wrote. “These individuals forced B.M. into a prone position on the stairs and proceeded to forcibly and repeatedly strike B.M. in the head and body with various objects.”
Investigators found two videos of the assault posted to Twitter and determined Stager beat the officer with a pole that had the American flag affixed to the opposite end, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
“Everybody in there is a treasonous traitor,” Stager said in one of the videos, referring to the Congressmembers inside the Capitol Building. “Death is the only remedy for what’s in that building.”
Terrorist beats an officer with an American Flagpic.twitter.com/HVNa0i9E9O
— Cleavon MD (@Cleavon_MD) January 11, 2021
Investigators said another image posted to social media showed Stager standing with the flagpole while other nearby rioters beat the officer, who was lying face-down on the ground at the time, according to Newsweek.
A confidential informant told investigators that Stager admitted he was the person in the videos, but claimed he “did not know the man he was struck on the ground with the flagpole was a cop and that he thought the person he was striking was Antifa,” the Daily Beast reported.
Prosecutors said B.M. was in full uniform with the words “METROPOLITAN POLICE” across his back at the time of the attack.
Stager was previously arrested on Jan. 14 on a single charge of obstructing a police officer from his duties during a civil disorder, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
According to the FBI in Little Rock, Stager turned himself in to a law firm last month, according to KHBS.
He has since been federally indicted on charges of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, civil disorder, assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon, obstructing an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted, according to Newsweek.
The federal grand jury also indicted Pennsylvania resident Michael John Lopatic and Colorado resident Jeffrey Sabol for allegedly assaulting law enforcement officers during the riot.
According to the indictment, all three rioters “willfully and knowingly engaged in an act of physical violence in the grounds of the U.S. Capitol building by assaulting Metropolitan Police Department officers stationed in the lower west terrace tunnel entryway to protect the U.S. Capitol building,” Newsweek reported.