AZ Man Arrested, Accused of Assaulting Officers at Capitol Riot

  • An Arizona man accused of throwing punches at a police officer during the Capitol riot was arrested.
  • Jacob Zerkle, 50, faces seven charges stemming from his alleged participation in the insurrection.
  • Zerkle told investigators he pushed into officers and “probably did something dumb,” according to court docs. 

An Arizona man accused of punching, pushing, and grabbing police officers outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021, was arrested this week on a string of Capitol riot charges.

Jacob Zerkle, 50, is charged with seven counts stemming from his alleged participation in the insurrection, including engaging in physical violence, assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers, and civil disorder, which carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison.

Zerkle was arrested in Tuscon on Tuesday, according to the Department of Justice, and made his initial court appearance the same day. 

The FBI sought the public’s help in identifying Zerkle after posting a photo of him on its website last year, according to court documents. Investigators were eventually able to identify Zerkle using surveillance footage from the scene, as well as police officer body-worn camera footage, prosecutors said.

A criminal complaint for the case said Zerkle was easily recognizable due to his “distinctive grey facial hair fashioned with large ‘mutton chops.'”

Prosecutors said body-worn camera footage shows Zerkle grabbing at DC Metropolitan police officers outside the Capitol. As one officer attempted to remove Zerkle from fellow authorities, Zerkle threw several punches and charged the officer, court documents said. 

The officer told investigators that he was part of a police group trying to push through the crowd to reach the Lower West Terrace in order to provide reinforcement as a mob of pro-Trump rioters laid siege to the Capitol. 

The FBI interviewed Zerkle outside his Arizona home in October, according to court documents, during which time he told investigators that he and a family member drove to Washington DC in January 2021 to protest election integrity. Zerkle said he did not attend former President Donald Trump’s speech prior to the riot because he went to DC to protest, not “listen to speeches.”

Zerkle then acknowledged that he pushed into police officers and said he “probably did something dumb” while at the riot, according to prosecutors. He told investigators than he was shoved into police and was not trying to assault officers, but protect himself. 

Christopher Macchiaroli, an attorney for Zerkle, told Insider his client has been cooperating with authorities.

“Mr. Zerkle, who never even entered the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, or had any intention to do so, has been cooperating fully in the Government’s investigation for months, including meeting with agents and prosecutors upon request, looks forward to his day in Court to address the charges against him, which consists of resisting being hit with a baton when multiple individuals in a crowd were crushed into each other, in an event, which lasted approximately eleven seconds, and resulted in no officer suffering any injury from Mr. Zerkle, who was unarmed, not arrested on scene, and was free to walk away from the U.S. Capitol, when hundreds went the opposite direction and entered the U.S. Capitol,” Macchiaroli said.

So far, 800 people have been arrested in connection with the Capitol riot, and more than 200 have pleaded guilty.

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