WASHINGTON, D.C. (KETK) – An East Texan with several criminal charges pending in connection to the Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol filed a motion claiming his involvement was due to influence from social media friends, demanding the government release more information about events that day.
Ryan Nichols, 32, is accused of several crimes that day, including assaulting, resisting or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon, entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a dangerous weapon, unlawful possession of dangerous weapons on Capitol grounds or buildings, acts of physical violence on Capitol grounds or buildings and more.
The dangerous weapon charges stem from Nichols being seen with a crowbar, pepper spray and a tomahawk axe at various points throughout the riot, according to the filing.
In a court filing from Tuesday, Nichols’ attorney argues that an individual known as 1% Watchdog “helped change Mr. Nichols’ way of thinking and is the ‘but for’ cause as to why Nichols showed up to the Capitol.”
According to court documents, 1% Watchdog contacted Nichols via Zello (a push-to-talk walkie talkie app) in 2018 and continued talking to him until January 2021. While they were in contact, “1% Watchdog manipulated and radicalized Mr. Nichols– so much so that Nichols would not have gone to the Capitol on January 6, but for 1% Watchdog’s continued manipulation of Nichols’ life.”
Documents allege that 1% Watchdog, who has still not been officially identified, was famous in Zello circles as a “connected government man with important contacts” and began creating political Zello chats in 2020.
“1% Watchdog preyed on these men,” the lawsuit alleges. “He radicalized them to the extent that they were willing to travel and do combat with Antifa because of his grooming and coaching. As the year progressed, veterans who had never been to a single protest in their life were lining up to go to Washington D.C. on January 6, 2021.”
The lawsuit claims that 1% Watchdog “played a direct, explicit, and personal role in influencing Nichols to come to Washington, D.C.” and asks to know “what, if any, relationship 1% Watchdog had with the Government.”
The lawsuit also names another man Nichols met through Zello as a direct influence on his actions at the Capitol. The lawsuit alleges that Nichols was under the impression the man was in some way associated with the White House. The lawsuit claims that this man suggested Nichols wear protective gear on Jan. 6, and participated in the breach but was never charged.
The same filing also demands any and all communications and threat assessments concerning the reason for Congress’ recess on January 6, 2021. It asks for the release of more information about the man who they say handed Nichols pepper spray which was allegedly discharged in the direction of police.
The document also states that the “government still owes defenses surveillance video.” A 2022 declaration stated that the FBI received 14,000 hours of CCTV footage, but Jan. 6 defenses have only been given 6,000 hours from other sources, “potentially leaving a shortfall of 8,000 hours that the FBI has not turned over.” They ask for an inventory of the footage they’ve been given compared to all 14,000 hours, so they can decide which footage they have and what could be missing.
A jury trial for Nichol’s case is set for Nov. 8, 2023.