Man accused of beating police officer during Capitol riot

A member of the far-right Proud Boys and a man accused of beating a police officer are among the latest individuals arrested in connection with the deadly Capitol riots on January 6.

Federal prosecutors in Washington said on Wednesday that they had arrested and would charge Patrick Edward McCaughey III with assaulting police officer Daniel Hodges, as well as for disorderly conduct and entering the restricted Capitol grounds. 

Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney in Washington, called the attack on Mr Hodges “abhorrent and quintessentially un-American”. Steven D’Antuono of the FBI Washington Field Office said the “savage beating” demonstrated “a blatant disregard for human life”. 

The beating of Mr Hodges was filmed and widely shared online. Mr Hodges later gave an interview to NBC in which he said: “If it wasn’t my job I would have done it for free, it was absolutely my pleasure to crush a white nationalist insurrection and I’m glad I was in a position to help.”

The FBI also on Wednesday said its agents had arrested Proud Boys member Joseph Randall Biggs in Florida for his role in breaching the Capitol. According to court documents, Mr Biggs was posting messages on social-networking site Parler as early as December 2020 in which he outlined his plans to come to Washington on January 6.

According to an affidavit filed in connection with his arrest, Mr Biggs was seen entering the Capitol in video footage live-streamed on Parler during the riot.

The affidavit said that Mr Biggs had spoken with an FBI agent after January 6 and admitted entering the Capitol, although he denied using force, saying the doors were “wide open”. He told the agent that he did not know if the storming of the Capitol was pre-planned, the affidavit stated.

The arrests are among dozens that have been carried out since the mob stormed the Capitol on January 6. Investigators have been combing through digital footage, social media and other tips to identify participants in the assault.

They have come amid significantly heightened security that was in place in Washington for Joe Biden’s inauguration, with thousands of armed members of the National Guard on the streets and much of the city’s centre closed to the public.

The National Mall that spans from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial is closed, a metal fence has been erected around the Capitol, and airports have been increasing security precautions ahead of the inauguration.

The Pentagon approved the deployment of 25,000 National Guard troops for the inauguration, while state capitals were responding to an FBI warning about possible armed protests around the US in the coming days.

Despite fears of further violence since the January 6 assault, there have been few disturbances, as security has been ratcheted up around potential targets in Washington and around the country. Social media companies have also taken steps to restrict communications from some of the most vocal proponents of the election fraud conspiracies blamed for stoking the riots, including Donald Trump.

Concern about weapons prompted Facebook to ban advertisements promoting weapon accessories — expanding an existing ban on ads for weapons — and protective equipment “out of an abundance of caution”.