Capitol riot defendant “viciously” beaten in D.C. jail, lawyer says
A Capitol riot defendant was “viciously and savagely” beaten by a guard in a Washington, D.C. jail and may lose sight in one eye because of his injuries, one of his lawyers told the CBS affiliate in the city, WUSA-TV. Ryan Samsel is accused of pushing over barriers and knocking down a police officer – causing her to suffer a concussion – during the January 6 riot.
Samsel is from Bristol, Pennsylvania, in Bucks County, CBS Philadelphia reports.
Samsel has been in federal custody since his arrest in January on charges of forcibly assaulting or interfering with a federal agent, obstructing an official proceeding and obstructing an officer.
This week, another Capitol riot defendant, Ronald Sandlin, told a federal judge during a bail hearing that Samsel was one of a number of defendants in the case who’d been subjected to violence by D.C. correctional officers.
In an interview with WUSA, Elisabeth Pasqualini said Samsel was “viciously and savagely” beaten by a corrections officer in the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility after the guard zip-tied Samsel’s hands.
She said she was only alerted to the alleged attack when two attorneys representing other defendants contacted her and said her client had gotten “a beatdown” by a guard and was in the hospital.
“He has definitely suffered serious injuries, including a shattered orbital floor, a broken orbital bone, his jaw was broken, his nose was broken,” Pasqualini said, adding that Samsel is currently unable to see out of his right eye and may permanently lose vision in it.
Even before the alleged assault, Pasqualini said, her client was being held in lockdown for 23 hours a day and was having a hard time getting access to hygiene supplies and the shower. She said he’s since been moved to another jail, where he remains under lockdown.
Pasqualini said she reported the alleged assault to jail officials, who told her they were conducting an internal investigation. She also reported it to the FBI which, she said, told her it was investigating, as well.
A spokesperson for the FBI’s Washington Field Office told WUSA in an emailed statement that the agency was aware of the allegations but that “as a matter of policy we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.”
WUSA9 also reached out to the D.C. Department of Corrections for comment, but hadn’t received a response as of Wednesday evening.
Samsel isn’t the first Capitol riot defendant to allege poor conditions during confinement, though his allegations are the most serious.
Last month, alleged Oath Keeper organizer Thomas Caldwell was released on bond in part because, his lawyer said, he’s been confined to a wheelchair as a result of not having access to orthopedic treatment while in custody.
Pasqualini said she doesn’t currently plan to file a motion asking for Samsel’s release because the state of Pennsylvania has a detainer on him due to his status as a parolee on January 6.
Records show Samsel is on parole for an assault conviction from 2016 in Pennsylvania and that there’s a separate warrant for his arrest related to an alleged 2019 assault in New Jersey.
According to the criminal complaint, Samsel can be seen in videos from the Capitol approaching a reinforced fence being secured by Capitol police officers. He takes off his jacket, turns his hat backwards and takes an aggressive posture before he and several other protesters began pushing and pulling on the barrier, authorities allege.
A female officer was knocked to the ground and struck her head when the fence fell. That officer, who was not named, told investigators that Samsel said, “We don’t have to hurt you. Why are you standing in our way?” The officer was later taken to the hospital for treatment after she blacked out.
Investigators said in the charging documents that Samsel can be seen on video a short time later during an altercation with another group of officers in riot gear, trying to pry a riot shield away from one of them.
A federal agent identified Samsel using a law enforcement database. A review of Samsel’s cellphone data showed he traveled to Washington on Jan. 6, according to the court documents.