An Oklahoma man has been arrested for allegedly attacking the media during the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol Complex. Benjamen Scott Burlew, 41, stands accused of assault in a special territorial jurisdiction and physical violence on restricted grounds.
According to charging documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, “two videos from separate sources taken during the riots” show the defendant attacking an Associated Press photographer.
“This assault included physically grabbing and shoving the [member of the news media] victim and pushing him forcefully over a low wall,” the court papers allege. “These crimes occurred in the general area of the Lower West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol Building.”
According to the FBI, the photographer was wearing a lanyard identifying him as a journalist and “was carrying at least one camera” while standing on a wide set of stairs when he was “was pulled backwards down the stairs by at least two unknown” assailants.
Each of those unknown assailants are said to be white males. A third unknown assailant is also identified as a “white male.”
In video cited by the government, the photographer puts his hands up and backs away from his attackers–only to eventually find Burlew allegedly waiting for him.
The defendant “appears to yell” at the photographer “and approach him aggressively,” according to the government. The first unknown assailant can then be seen grabbing the photographer’s lanyard and then using it “to forcefully drag” the journalist back down the stairs.
The photographer is then pushed, shoved and dragged “parallel to the stairs,” the unnamed FBI special agent notes.
“During this altercation, Burlew can be seen to shove the [media] victim using Burlew’s right hand placed on the [media] victim’s back, over the [media] victim’s black backpack,” the filing continues. “After shoving the [media] victim, Burlew disengages from the altercation and can be observed on the video appearing to head off in the opposite direction while the other assailants continue to push and drag the [media] victim away.”
For a few moments, the photographer is then repeatedly pushed and shoved by two additional unknown assailants and yelled at by another. Eventually, the government alleges, Burlew makes his way back to the scene of the ongoing pummeling of the photographer.
“At this point, Burlew is observed to lunge towards the [media] victim and grab his upper chest with his left hand and the [media] victim’s right leg and knee with his right hand and forcefully throw and push the [media] victim over the wall and to the lawn several feet below,” the charging documents claim. “Burlew continues to shove and push the [media] victim until the [media] victim is thrown backwards over the wall. The [media] victim, together with at least one individual that was standing on the wall behind the [media] victim and caught up in the melee, lands on his back on the ground several feet below the wall, on the grounds of the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol, while Burlew leans over the wall and observes his fall.”
According to the FBI, multiple videos–including police body camera footage–corroborate the allegations against the Sooner Stater.
Burlew, for his part, denied to the FBI that he was in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 during a brief phone interview where he said the law enforcement agency was lying after invoking his right to an attorney.
The defendant’s identity was confirmed, the government alleges, by four confidential witnesses–including a member of Burlew’s family.
Since then, the FBI claims, eight more people have come forward to identify Burlew based on a federal “Be On the Look Out” poster.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Burlew is one of eight individuals in this investigation who have been arrested for allegedly destroying media equipment, assaulting journalists or inciting violence against members of news media.”
[images via U.S. Department of Justice]
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