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Two years later, Jan. 6 video footage raises new questions about police and prosecutors

Retired deputy police chief reveals there are sizzle reels of every defendant in the Capitol, as prosecutors admit footage shows undercover cops inciting protesters.

Published: March 27, 2023 11:19pm

Two years after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the issue of security footage is bedeviling law enforcement as federal prosecutors belatedly admit there is footage of some cops consorting with the riotous crowd and a retired Capitol Police executive divulges there are sizzle reels of all defendants inside the Capitol that were prepared for the FBI.

Retired Capitol Police Deputy Chief J.J. Pickett told Just the News on Monday that he is not certain whether federal prosecutors have turned over to Jan. 6 defendants the compilation videos made by his department of every person who entered the U.S. Capitol during the riot.

Pickett, who retired a few months after the Capitol riot, said he was briefed by colleagues on the extensive video sizzle reel his department's video security experts compiled, which he said took months to complete.

"The FBI would send them a picture on some kind of online clip, something of a person," Pickett said during a wide-ranging interview on the John Solomon Reports podcast. "And they would go to that area in the Capitol Building looking at the cameras, and it was kind of like a Where's Waldo. And they would find that person.

"And then from there, they would follow their movement, both forward and back from that location, and basically stitch together a video of that person from the time they entered Capitol grounds until the time they exited Capitol grounds. And they would put all that into one clip."

Asked whether the videos were turned over to defense lawyers, Pickett said he retired and does not know what federal prosecutors did with the footage shared with the FBI.

"The prosecution has to divulge all the information they have, and the FBI and the Capitol Police have to divulge it all to the prosecutors so they have it," he said, describing how defendants should have been alerted.

Pickett's description of a large library of compilation videos comes as federal prosecutors divulged in the case of one Jan. 6 defendant, William Pope, that there is police body-cam footage they don't want to make public that shows D.C. Metropolitan Police officers — some in plain clothes — consorting with the protesters and even exhorting "Go! Go! Go!" as the protesters are trying to penetrate the Capitol.

In a brief filed late Friday by the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, D.C., prosecutors wrote: "The specific footage, GoPro video recorded by an MPD Police Officer who was stationed at the Capitol in an evidence-gathering capacity, captures the officer shouting words to the effect of 'Go! Go! Go!' (MPD-005-000035 at time stamp 2:37), 'Go! Go! Go!' (MPD-005-000035 at time stamp 7:23), and 'Keeping going! Keep going!' (MPD-005-000035 at time stamp 8:16) apparently to the individuals in front of him on the balustrade of the U.S. Capitol's northwest staircase around 2:15 p.m.

"At other times in these videos, the officer and the two other plain clothes officers with him appear to join the crowd around them in various chants, to include 'drain the swamp,' 'U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!', and 'Whose house? Our house!'" 

You can read that court filing here:

Pope's defense team has asked for permission to make the video footage public, but federal prosecutors told the court they want the trial judge's protective order to remain in place to keep the video from becoming public.

"To do so would be like using a hammer when only a scalpel is needed," the government argued in opposing the release of the tapes, adding they believed Pope's "desire to try his case in the media rather than in a court of law is illegitimate."

Just the News reached out to U.S. Capitol Police, who confirmed video footage was sent to federal prosecutors but said they did not understand Pickett's concerns.

"So basically," a Capitol Police spokesman said, "this former employee who had nothing to do with January 6 cases while on the Department is alleging that the Department of Justice is not turning over video to the defense attorneys? That doesn't sound right to our Office of General Counsel at all."

"But of course we cannot answer questions that you all have for the Department of Justice. The allegation is directed at the DOJ, so I would ask them. I hope he has some significant evidence/proof as this is a significant allegation. But again, we have no idea why a former employee would have any idea what DOJ is or is not doing." 

When Just the News asked if the U.S. Capitol Police was helping the FBI by making the video reels of Jan. 6 suspects, the spokesperson replied, "Our Department, like all enforcement agencies, provide video evidence to prosecutors."

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday, but prosecutors in recent weeks have denied withholding any exculpatory evidence, including video footage.

Several lawyers representing Jan. 6 defendants did not respond to calls Monday seeking comment on whether their clients have been able to review video footage like that described by Pickett.

The issue of defense access to security video footage has burst into public after Fox News host Tucker Carlson published video of some of the defendants and their lawyers then claimed the footage was not shared with them.

Federal prosecutors have disputed that, saying all relevant video has been shared and that that wasn't wasn't considered exculpatory to the defendants.

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