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WASHINGTON — A Utah man pleaded guilty Thursday to assaulting police during the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot.
Landon Kenneth Copeland, 34, of Apple Valley, Washington County, pleaded guilty to assaulting, resisting or impeding officers, which is a felony. In return for his plea, 10 other charges will be dropped against Copeland.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said Copeland's potential sentence could range between 41 and 51 months in prison, but that range could change before he is sentenced, which is scheduled for Sept. 9. The charge carries a maximum potential sentence of eight years in prison.
Copeland took a week off from work to drive to D.C. with his girlfriend for then-President Donald Trump's rally, according to a statement of fact document made public by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. The two attended the rally and left to get food, missing Trump's speech. When they returned, they saw people walking to the U.S. Capitol.
Around 1:11 p.m., Copeland was in a crowd of people near the West Plaza of the Capitol, and the crowd had pushed U.S. Capitol Police back toward the steps of the building. Another rioter approached a police officer and began yelling before putting his hands around the officer's collar. Copeland then pushed the other rioter, causing the officer to fall to the ground, the court document states. The officer suffered injuries to his knee, back and hip during the riot, and part of those injuries took place during this interaction.
Copeland then allegedly grabbed a riot shield from an officer and pushed back against the police line. He later grabbed another officer's jacket and pushed the officer backward, the document says. Copeland later lowered his body to block police as they advanced.
Around 1:15 p.m., Copeland joined another rioter in grabbing a metal barricade to try and pull it away from a police officer, starting a "tug of war" with officers, the document states. At least one officer used a chemical spray on the crowd, including on Copeland.
Copeland was interviewed by FBI agents on Feb. 11, 2021, where he admitted fighting with police, according to initial charging documents. He was arrested and formally charged in April 2021 — the first Utahn who faced charges in connection with the Capitol riot. A judge later ordered Copeland to undergo a mental health evaluation after he made repeated outbursts during a court hearing, calling a court clerk "evil."
Copeland has been in the custody of the Washington County Sheriff's Office for over a year, as jail records show he was booked on May 11, 2021.
Over 800 people have been charged in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot, according to the news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. Eight Utahns have been charged, and Copeland is the fifth to plead guilty.