Richard Barnett Must Stay in Jail Before Capitol Riot Trial: Judge

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‘Brazen, Entitled, Dangerous’: Man Seen with a Stun Gun Inside Nancy Pelosi’s Office Must Stay in Jail, Judge Rules

Richard Barnett, who kicked up his feet on a desk in Speaker Pelosi’s office, had a stun gun at the time.

‘Brazen. Entitled. Dangerous.”

Those are the thundering words the chief judge from the District of D.C. found best described Richard “Bigo” Barnett, the 60-year-old seen smirking with his feet on a desk in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office with a stun gun in his pants. After delivering a passionate jeremiad, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell kept Barnett behind bars before trial in connection with the U.S. Capitol insurrection.

“This was not a peaceful protest,” an audibly livid Judge Howell noted following an hour-long detention hearing. “Hundreds of people came to Washington, D.C. to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.”

“The government has presented overwhelming evidence that this defendant, Richard Barnett, enthusiastically participated in this assault on the Capitol,” Howell added.

Calling the charges against Barnett “too benign sounding,” Judge Howell said the event was “destined to go down in the history books” as an attack against U.S. democracy.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Lyle Dohrmann called pre-trial detention necessary because of Barnett’s brazenness, advanced planning, and his weapons.

“He knew exactly what he was doing,” Dohrmann told the judge. “He brought a stun device which he bought just days before.”

Jumping on that turn of phrase, Howell asked the prosecutor whether the “device” was a “stun gun,” eliciting a surprising response. Dohrmann said that the stun gun doubled as a walking stick.

Court papers describe the device, and how authorities found it, in more detail.

“As seen in the zoomed in box in the photograph below, the ZAP brand is clearly visible on the stun gun tucked into Barnett’s pants,” Capitol Police agent James Solte wrote in a 7-page statement of facts. “Based on the brand on the weapon, and its appearance, the weapon appeared to be a ZAP Hike N Strike 950,000 Volt Stun Gun Walking Stick.”

Authorities found the packaging for that same stun gun two days later when executing a search warrant in Barnett’s home in Gravette, Arkansas, an image also embedded in court papers.

Though Barnett has not been convicted of a felony previously, the prosecutor called previous incidents involving him troubling, including a so-called “Save the Children” protest where he was seen with a rifle slung on his back and a pistol on his hip. The themes of that rally had a familiar ring to the judge.

“Is that connected in any way to the QAnon conspiracy theory?” Judge Howell asked of the “Save the Children” rally.

The prosecutor responded that she did not have any specific information connecting the two, but she believed that there could have been a tie. Barnett denied any connection between the two, through his lawyer.

The Department of Justice has charged several QAnon adherents among the insurrectionists, noting that the “discredited” theory has the violent aim of arresting and executing the imagined malefactors in a “Storm.”

Authorities never retrieved Barnett’s stun gun and firearm, despite knowing that he bought them and seeing him carrying them.

Judge Howell and the prosecutors both appeared to be alarmed by Barnett’s remarks to reporters from the New York Times and The Washington Post, which quoted Barnett saying he “came into this world kicking and screaming, covered in someone else’s blood” before adding: “I’m not afraid to go out the same way.”

Howell quoted Barnett telling a reporter: “I wrote her a nasty note, put my feet up on her desk and scratched my balls.”

In a model of euphemism, Barnett’s defense counsel Anthony Siano responded: “It’s clear… that my client was not politically in tune with the Speaker.”

Howell refused to abide any attempt to water down Barnett’s language and conduct, describing how the man “strutted” inside Pelosi’s office.

“The government describes this conduct as brazen, and I would agree that is an accurate description,” she intoned.

(Screenshot from court records)

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Law&Crime's senior investigative reporter and editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.