Late yesterday afternoon the Department of Justice and US Attorney for the District of Oregon announced that eighteen people have been charged with federal crimes for their actions on the nights of July 20, 21, and 22.
With regard to the July 20, Jennifer Kristiansen, 37, is charged with assaulting a federal officer; Zachary Duffly, 45, is charged with creating a disturbance; Wyatt Ash-Milby, 18, is charged with trespassing on federal property; and Caleb Ehlers, 23, and Paul Furst, 22, are charged with failing to comply with a lawful order.
With regard to July 21, Taylor Lemons, 31; Giovanni Bondurant, 19; and Gabriel Houston, 22, are charged with assaulting federal officers; Joseph Ybarra, 21, is charged with arson; Jerusalem Callahan, 24, is charged with willfully damaging government property; and Marnie Sager, 27, and Ella Miller, 26, are charged failing to comply with a lawful order.
With regard to July 22, Joseph Lagalo, 37; Baily Dreibelbis, 22; Nicholas Kloiber, 26; David Hazan, 24; Hailey Holden, 30; and Cameron Knuetson, age unknown, are charged with failing to comply with a lawful order.
Title 18 United States Code, Sec. 111 defines the offense of assaulting a federal officer. It can be charged as both a misdemeanor “simple assault” or a felony.
“Simply assault” generally involves physical contact not making use of a dangerous or deadly weapon, and not resulting in any bodily injury. That is punishable by a term of up to one year in prison.
But felony assault on a federal law enforcement agent, where a dangerous or deadly weapon is used, is a crime punishable by a term of up to 20 years in prison.
There are many variables that might come into play under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines that will be unique to the facts as they are known with respect to each individual. But any felony assault conviction, even for a first time offender with no prior record, is going to result in a sentence of 2-3 years in federal prison.
Even the throwing of frozen water bottles is going to qualify as use of a “dangerous weapon” — that is no different than throwing a rock.
Rioters in Portland continue to throw frozen & liquid water bottles at federal officers by the dozens per minute
+ Throw hard projectiles & fireworks
— ELIJAH RIOT (@ElijahSchaffer) July 25, 2020
The federal statute covering arson is 18 U.S.C Sec. 844(f).
- Whoever maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other personal or real property in whole or in part owned or possessed by, or leased to, the United States, or any department or agency thereof, or any institution or organization receiving Federal financial assistance, shall be imprisoned for not less than 5 years and not more than 20 years…
- Whoever engages in conduct prohibited by this subsection, and as a result of such conduct, directly or proximately causes personal injury or creates a substantial risk of injury to any person, including any public safety officer performing duties, shall be imprisoned for not less than 7 years and not more than 40 years, fined under this title, or both.
A third provision of the statute provides for the death penalty if any person dies as a result of such arson.
The key feature of the federal arson statute is the “mandatory minimum” term of imprisonment set by Congress. It seems to me, based on the facts, the “2” provision applies because people are inside the courthouse while the fires are being set by rioters. The mandatory minimum term of imprisonment under that section is 7 years.
Although the press release is not completely clear, it’s likely that these individuals were all charged by way of a criminal complaint. That means the US Attorney’s Office has already decided there are facts sufficient to charge the defendants and bring them before a federal magistrate pursuant to arrest warrants. The prosecutor now has 14 days to obtain an indictment from a federal grand jury. In the interim they have been released from custody — these are not typically the kinds of charges that would result in pretrial detention prior to the return of an indictment. But their release is subject to monitoring by Pretrial Services, and there are conditions of pretrial release imposed upon them, such as to not commit any new state or federal crimes.
It also means that some federal law enforcement agencies — likely both the FBI and Criminal Investigations Division of Homeland Security — are working together to assemble cases against rioters.
It was reported earlier this week that the FBI is working quietly behind the scenes to identify leaders of the rioting and build cases against them under a variety of federal statutes. Those cases typically take a little time to develop. But every day the rioters battle the agents in Portland is likely another day there will be new cases filed in federal court.