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In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, photo, violent rioters try to break through a police line on the West Front of the Capitol, in Washington. The top watchdog for the U.S. Capitol Police will testify to Congress for the first time about the department’s broad failures before and during the Jan. 6 insurrection. Among them was missed intelligence and old weapons that officers didn’t feel comfortable using. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) [Apr-28-2021]

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Southern Utah man charged with attacking officers during U.S. Capitol riot

By Ashley Fredde, KSL.com | Posted - Apr. 29, 2021 at 5:57 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — A Washington County man was arrested Wednesday and charged with attacking police officers during the deadly insurrection and riot at the U.S. Capitol in January while Congress was in the process of counting electoral votes.

Landon Kenneth Copeland, 33, of Apple Valley, is charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder; knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on capitol grounds. He is the fifth Utahn charged with participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Copeland is accused of grabbing a riot shield, shoving another crowd member into the police line and throwing a "metal bike rack fence barricade" toward officers after a tug-of-war over the bike rack, according to Department of Justice and a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

The complaint says Capitol Police footage, YouTube video and Instagram video "depict Copeland's assaultive and obstructive conduct."

Copeland stood at the front of a crowd of people that appeared to be trying to breach the police line at the Capitol, the complaint states, when an unknown person approached an officer and began shouting.

"From behind, Copeland pushed that unknown person into the officer, and the officer appeared to fall to the ground. Other officers, bearing riot shields, pushed forward against the crowd in an apparent attempt to protect the fallen officer. Copeland grabbed one of the riot shields and pushed back against the police line. He also grabbed at an officer's jacket and pushed that officer backward. Then he lowered his body to block officers as they advanced. After a brief struggle, the police forced Copeland back," according to the complaint.

Copeland is also accused of grabbing a metal fence serving as a barricade and trying to pull it away from police when pepper spray was deployed on him and others in the crowd. "In response, Copeland pushed or threw the fence toward multiple law enforcement officers," the complaint says.

An FBI analyst assessed social media accounts of those involved in the insurrection and identified photos of Copeland taken at sites in Washington. The complaint says Copeland was wearing the same clothing in those photos as he was wearing in Capitol Police footage taken of the Capitol riot.

An FBI agent interviewed an acquaintance of Copeland on Feb. 1 in southern Utah who said that Copeland had taken a week off of work to travel to Washington to attend the rally on Jan. 6. The acquaintance said that Copeland told them about the events and admitted to engaging with police outside the Capitol, according to court documents.

In a Feb. 11 interview with the FBI, Copeland admitted he attended the rally, identified himself in photographs and "admitted to fighting with police officers," the complaint states. Copeland allegedly told agents that he felt that "police officers were trying to 'penetrate the line' of the protesters and 'steal' individual members of the crowd."

A series of Facebook posts from an account with the name Landon Copeland from Apple Valley addressed the case.

"So that everyone knows I go to see the FBI and a judge tomorrow," one post from Wednesday states. "I guess peacefully protesting at the Capitol is now illegal and they are trying to hunt us all down to try and teach us a lesson. Unfortunately only one option remains when we return. We bring guns and take the Capitol building without intention of being peaceful. This ends with the government bombing their own people. I had hopes it wouldn't. But here we are."

Another post read: "A champion I stood that day before your soldiers and your dog men. May we never forget Ashli Babbit."

Babbit was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer as she attempted to breach a set of doors in the Capitol during the riot. Federal prosecutors cleared the officer of any wrongdoing, indicating that the officer was firing in self-defense.

Copeland's case is being investigated by the FBI's Washington field office and the Metropolitan Police Department, DOJ officials said, "with significant assistance provided by the FBI's Salt Lake City field office."

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