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Judge closes hearing to discuss mental health of Utahn accused in Capitol siege

In a screenshot from Landon Kenneth Copeland’s federal complaint, an image shows a man identified as Copeland struggling with Capitol police officers over a barricade during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

(U.S. District Court)

SALT LAKE CITY – The results of a mental health evaluation for a southern Utah man charged with attacking officers in the U.S. Capitol siege in January are under wraps for the time being.

Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather ordered the review following Landon Kenneth Copeland's repeated outbursts in court earlier this month when he yelled expletives and called a court clerk "evil." On Friday, the judge closed a portion of a hearing to the public so she and attorneys could privately discuss findings of the preliminary competency review.

Copeland, 33, was due to appear in federal court in Washington, D.C., via Zoom. But southern Utah's Washington County Jail couldn't make him available, and he's seeking to be present via videoconference at substantive hearings, his defense attorney said.

Copeland, of Apple Valley in Washington County, is one of five Utahns charged in the Jan. 6 siege. He 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.

Copeland allegedly told federal investigators that he felt "police officers were trying to 'penetrate the line' of the protesters and 'steal' individual members of the crowd," charging documents state.

At the May court hearing, Copeland indicated he is an Iraq War veteran. His attorney described him as "in crisis," and prosecutors acknowledged he has said in the past that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Copeland faces charges of 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.

Officer Brian Sicknick died the day after defending the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot. District of Columbia chief medical examiner Francisco J. Diaz ruled that Sicknick had suffered two strokes and died of natural causes. "Diaz's ruling does not mean Sicknick was not assaulted or that the violent events at the Capitol did not contribute to his death. The medical examiner noted Sicknick was among the officers who engaged the mob and said 'all that transpired played a role in his condition,'" The Washington Post reported.

Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed by Capitol police as she and others swarmed the building.

Copeland returns to court June 7.

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