Updated Oct 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

New York attorney accused of attacking police at Capitol riot

Trump supporters outside the U.S. Capitol, including a man prosecutors identify as lawyer John O’Kelly  on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump supporters outside the U.S. Capitol, including a man prosecutors identify as lawyer John O’Kelly on Jan. 6, 2021. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images via the Department of Justice

A New York attorney has been accused of assaulting law enforcement officers during the U.S. Capitol riot after being arrested Thursday on felony and misdemeanor charges.

Driving the news: John O'Kelly, of East Williston, Long Island, allegedly illegally made his way to the West front of the Capitol grounds where rioters were fighting with law enforcement officers attempting to maintain a police barrier on Jan. 6 2021, per court documents filed in the U.S. District court in D.C.

A screenshot of a Twitter post of images of a man identified as New York attorney John O'Kelly at the Capitol riot.
Photo: FBI via Sedition Hunters/Twitter
  • The 66-year-old is accused of attempting to "disarm" a D.C. Metropolitan Police officer by "grabbing" his baton and "attempting to wrestle it" from his hands and pushing a metal bike rack that was being used to secure the perimeter into several officers, according to the filing.

Between the lines: Prosecutors said they identified O'Kelly after FBI images were shared by the Twitter account of the Sedition Hunters, an online group seeking to hold Capitol rioters to account, in an April 2021 post with the hashtag #MidWhiteCrisis.

  • The FBI used facial recognition technology following a tip from someone who used "open source photo ID software" in July of that year.

Of note: O'Kelly previously represented the Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry in a failed lawsuit against the Department of Justice that sought to present to a grand jury the conspiracy theory that pre-planted explosives brought down New York City's Twin Towers, per NBC News.

  • It was dismissed by a judge last year and an appeals court upheld the ruling in August.

What's next: O'Kelly faces felony charges of assaulting, resisting, or impeding law enforcement officers and interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder, as well as related misdemeanor offenses.

By the numbers: More than 880 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the Capitol attack, per the DOJ.

Read the court filing, obtained by NBC News, via DocumentCloud:

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details from the case and further context.

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