WASHINGTON (KETK) – A judge has set Friday as a deadline for federal prosecutors to respond to a request from an East Texas man charged in the Capitol Hill riots to be released until his trial.
Alex Harkrider, 34, is accused along with 30-year-old Ryan Nichols, a Longview native, of several crimes stemming from the riot, ranging from civil disorder to assaulting federal officers.
The order was handed down by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, a nominee by President Obama in 2012.
Harkrider’s lawyers last week filed the motion to be released while also tearing into the FBI investigation, calling it “sloppy” and “full of misrepresentations and assumptions.”
A 20-page Department of Justice arrest warrant lists in great detail how the two planned on storming the Capitol for weeks and how they posted several times to social media bragging about the riot.
His Washington D.C. attorney, Kira West, wrote that Harkrider was simply listening to President Trump’s claims at a rally earlier in the day to protest the results.
“Like thousands of others, Mr. Harkrider was responding to the entreaties of the then Commander-in-Chief President Donald Trump. The President maintained that the election had been ‘stolen’ and that it was the duty of loyal citizens to “stop the steal.” [He] did not act out of criminal intent but out of sense of duty.“
Harkrider’s lawyers make several claims in the 16-page motion about his involvement that stand in direct contradiction with what investigators presented in their arrest affidavit.
They write that he has cooperated since at least 15 officers arrested him in January. When he was taken into custody, police threw a flashbang device to help subdue him.
In the motion, his lawyers claim that the Capitol had already been breached by the time Harkrider reached the building and that he “never damaged federal property, never threatened law enforcement…”
However, in the affidavit, there are screenshots of video from the FBI where they alleged that both Nichols and Harkrider were “pushing with the large crowd against the same entrance to the U.S. Capitol that was guarded by U.S. Capitol Police.
A separate photo from Snapchat that was included in the arrest warrant showed Harkrider inside the Capitol with a caption that read: “We’re in. 2 people killed already. We need all the patriots of this country to rally the f*** up and fight for our freedom or it’s gone forever. Give us liberty or give us death.”
His lawyers claim, without evidence, that the photo “could be easily doctored.” and that the detective “had no idea how the writing got on the photo.”
“The evidence is not as the government as alleged against Mr. Harkrider. So far, what the government has provided to the Court… are still shots and short videos. They are taken out of context. When this Court watches the video footage, the Court will see that Mr. Harkrider was peaceful.”KIRA WEST, ATTORNEY FOR ALEX HARKRIDER
Lastly, his lawyers ask the judge to consider him for release because he is “a man who loves his country so much that he left his family and the comfort and beauty of Texas to fight for his country.”
They write that all of his ties, from family to financial, are in Carthage and that there would be “no reason to think that he would flee or not return to court.”