DENVER | A Maryland man is accused of throwing a flagpole and a smoke grenade at police and assaulting an Associated Press photographer during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, according to court documents released Tuesday.
Rodney Milstreed allegedly threw the flagpole bearing a navy flag “javelin-like” toward a group of Capitol police officers blocking the stairs leading up to the Capitol, apparently hitting one officer, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Colorado. Later, after an officer picked up a smoke grenade that had been spreading smoke near police and lobbed it toward protesters, Milstreed allegedly picked it up and threw it back toward police, the document said.
The documents do not name the photographer but the description and photos show it is AP photographer John Minchillo.
Millstreed is the third person to be charged with assaulting him that day. Video captured by a colleague showed Minchillo being pushed, pulled and punched by a group of men outside of the Capitol. Some of the attackers are heard accusing him of being part of the far-left antifa movement.
In the court documents, investigators said the colleague’s video and police body camera video show Milstreed grabbing Minchillo, who was dressed in black and wearing a helmet-style gas mask, by his backpack and pulling him backward down the stairs and then shoving him and advancing toward him in a “threatening fashion.”
In a Facebook post a few days later, Milstreed said attacking the photographer was “worth it,” adding “Hit him with everything god give. The crowd cheered,” according to the complaint.
Milstreed, who prosecutors say is from Finksburg, Maryland, but arrested in Brighton, Colorado, on Tuesday, also allegedly shared photos of two assault weapons, a large supply of ammunition and gun parts after sending a Facebook message in November 2020 about how it was going to “get ugly” when the votes from the 2020 presidential election were overturned.
Milstreed is being represented by a lawyer from the federal public defender’s office, which does not comment on cases.
In August, Benjamen Scott Burlew of Miami, Oklahoma, was charged with dragging and ultimately pushing Minchillo over a low stone wall on the Capitol grounds. Alan William Byerly of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, was arrested in July on charges of assaulting Minchillo and police officers during the riot.
Several other people have been charged with assaulting journalists, inciting violence against members of the press or destroying camera equipment belonging to journalists covering the riot, including an AP video crew.
About 800 defendants have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot. Roughly 300 pleaded guilty. Juries have convicted four other defendants after trials. Charges in the riot range from misdemeanor offenses for those who only entered the Capitol to seditious conspiracy charges against members of the far-right Oath Keepers extremist group.
Another trial began Tuesday in the case against a U.S. Army reservist. Timothy Hale-Cusanelli is charged with obstructing the joint session of Congress convened to certify President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Associated Press writer Alanna Durkin Richer contributed to this report from Boston.