Capitol riot defendant claims he was attacked by DC jail guards, lawyer says
By Alexander Mallin and Luke Barr, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — A Pennsylvania man charged with assaulting officers at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection says he was brutally beaten by two guards at the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility late last month, according to his lawyer.
Ryan Samsel, who was arrested in late January after authorities identified him as the man seen on video pushing against a police barricade that knocked a female officer to the ground as a pro-Trump mob descended on the Capitol, relayed details of his alleged assault to his attorney, Elisabeth Pasqualani.
In a phone interview with ABC News Thursday, Pasqualani said she believes the incident is being investigated by both the D.C. Department of Corrections and the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
“The Department of Corrections takes the safety and well-being of all residents, staff, and contractors extremely seriously,” a Department of Corrections representative said in a statement to ABC News. “We are aware of the allegation made by an inmate and it is under investigation by the Department of Justice.”
FBI officials, in a brief statement, said they were “aware of the allegations, however, as a matter of policy, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.”
Pasqualani said Thursday that she was told by Samsel that two guards came to his cell late last month in the early morning hours and ordered him to put on zip-tie handcuffs before taking him to another nearby cell.
Pasqualani said Samsel told her that one of the officers then proceeded to “punch him, hit him, kick him” as he lay on the ground.
According to Pasqualani, Samsel was taken to a hospital and suffered a broken nose and a fractured orbital floor in his eye socket, and that he still cannot see out of his right eye, which “might be permanent,” she said.
Samsel has since been relocated to a separate facility, Pasqualani said, after she requested his transfer following the alleged assault.
Samsel is not the first defendant to raise accusations of harsh treatment and poor conditions in the D.C. jail.
During a hearing this week, Capitol riot defendant Ronald Sandlin told a judge that guards have harassed his fellow defendants with threats of violence, and he cited Samsel’s alleged beating as he pleaded for release from pretrial detention.
Other defendants have complained to the court that they’ve been kept in lockdown for 23 hours each day, with some alleging decrepit conditions inside their cells like freezing temperatures and insect infestations.
Last month, a former Trump appointee arrested for his alleged role during the riot complained to a judge that there were “cockroaches literally everywhere” in his detention facility.
“I’m wondering if there’s a place I could stay in detention where I don’t have cockroaches crawling on me while I’m trying to sleep,” Federico Klein, who was an active government appointee when he allegedly participated in the riot, asked a federal judge.
A deputy warden at the jail confirmed to a federal judge last month that defendants being held on charges related to the Capitol riot were being held in a restrictive housing unit, citing “their own safety and security.”
In a separate detention hearing for an accused Capitol rioter on Thursday, a senior judge in the D.C. district court, Emmet Sullivan, said he and several of his colleagues had set a Friday meeting with the director of the D.C. Department of Corrections to get answers on some of the “rumors” they had been hearing from defense attorneys in their cases.
Sullivan expressed concern that attorneys for accused rioter Jeffrey Sabol said they have not received an explanation as to why Sabol and others are being placed in lockdown for 23 hours a day.
“Like everything else, we want to separate fact from fiction,” Sullivan said.
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.