Iced Earth guitar and vocalist Jon Schaffer is among 31 Oath Keepers and Proud Boys being sued by District Of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine for their participation in the January 6, 2020 insurrection.
According to CNN, the 31 individuals are being sued for "conspiring to terrorize the District." The lawsuit seeks to hold them financially accountable for "the millions of dollars officials spent dispatching officers from the Metropolitan Police Department to the Capitol," and for the ensuing medical bills and medical leave of the aforementioned officers.
"No one bore the brunt of this gutless attack more than the courageous law enforcement officers including the men and women of the DC Metropolitan Police Department who went into the fire and violence with one objective in mind: remove the violent mob and restore our country's fragile democracy," said Racine.
Racine has not disclosed how much he will be seeking in the lawsuit, only mentioning that he will be going for "the maximum financial penalties."
As of November, Schaffer was cooperating with authorities as a result of his role in the insurrection. Schaffer pled guilty to two charges of the six he was accused of at the time, including obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress and trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
A report from the Indianapolis newspaper The Republic notes that Schaffer, while currently under pre-trial release," is still cooperating with authorities based on a status update. The official government status update reads “He has remained compliant with pre-trial release conditions. He has remained cooperative with law enforcement since his release. Multiple defendants charged in the case in which the defendant is cooperating have been presented before the court; several are in the process of exploring case resolutions and a trial date has yet to be set.”
According to a statement from Schaffer's attorney, Marc J. Victor during a detention hearing, he said Schaffer was being targeted by other inmates. “My client, who is presumed innocent, has just gone through two months of hell where other people were throwing feces at him and urine at him and threatening his life in a horrible, horrible situation.”
Due to Schaffer's high-profile status, he was placed in what's called "administrative segregation." He was kept away from the general population of the jail for safety concerns. It apparently didn't work because Schaffer feared for his life.
On March 7 a deputy with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office removed Schaffer from his cell block after Schaffer said he "was in fear for his personal safety,” the deputy reported. Schaffer informed the deputy about problems he was having with a specific inmate.
The next day, it was reported that jail staff received an emergency grievance from Schaffer. Three inmates, including the one mentioned in the March 7 report, were making death threats against him.
“Block ‘4F’ has been locked-down all-day due to these threats, and will continue to remain locked-down until inmate Schaffer can be reclassed from the block,” the March 8 report reads.
The report goes onto to say that the Marion County Sheriff’s Office only experienced these threats “soon before the incident reports were drafted.” They went on to say that Schaffer did not interact with other inmates, nor taken out of administrative segregation leading the paper to question how the threats could've gotten to Schaffer. One of the inmates Schaffer complained about previously assaulted another inmate so badly, they had to be sent to the hospital. Another punched a deputy in his face a few days before Schaffer claimed he was threatened. While the documents Indy Star obtained do not disclose the reason Schaffer was targeted, his lawyer would say it was because of Schaffer's role in the January 6th riots.
After describing a fecal attack, Schaffer's lawyer told the judge “He’s gone through two months. I think this got his attention, Judge. He's aware this is a serious case.”
Federal Judge Zia M. Faruqui responded “That’s obviously unacceptable, flatly. I share your feelings of anger that this is not how our criminal justice system is to work.” He then addressed Schaffer in the teleconfernce saying “And, Mr. Schaffer, I'm sorry. I'm sure it's — it's very little solace, but I do apologize.”
In May, the legal charges against Schaffer were uncovered. Here is how the federal government described Schaffer's actions, as well as revealing that Schaffer admitted he had no legal right to enter the Capitol:
At approximately 2:40 p.m., as legislators and their staff were being evacuated to secure locations, Schaffer, still wearing his Oath Keepers hat and tactical vest, and still carrying on his person bear spray-positioned himself at the front of a large mob that broke open the Capitol building doors being guarded by four Capitol Police officers wearing riot gear. Schaffer was among the first six individuals to push past the damaged doors and into the building, forcing the officers to retreat. As the mob swelled inside, and officers were being assaulted, Schaffer and other members of the mob continued to advance while aggressively gesturing toward a row of five to six backpedaling officers trying to maintain a security line in front of them. The officers' effort quickly failed as Schaffer and the rest of the mob overwhelmed the officers, who ultimately deployed a chemical irritant to disperse the mob.
Schaffer was among those who were sprayed in the face by the irritant. He thereafter exited the building, with his unholstered bear spray now in hand, through the same doors that he had entered through approximately nine minutes earlier. When Schaffer unlawfully entered the Capitol building, he was aware that the Joint Session to certify the Electoral College results had commenced and that the Vice President had announced that he did not intend to stop the certification. Wearing a tactical vest and armed with bear spray, Schaffer unlawfully entered the building with the purpose of influencing, affecting, and retaliating against the conduct of government by stopping or delaying the Congressional proceeding by intimidation or coercion.
Schaffer admits that his belief that the Electoral College results were fraudulent is not a legal justification for unlawfully entering the Capitol building and using intimidation to influence, stop, or delay the Congressional proceeding.
You can read the full statement of offense here. Schaffer's bail is under the following conditions:
- He must submit to court supervision in Indiana.
- He must surrender his passport and international traveling documents
- He must stay out of Washington D.C., outside of court hearings and attorney meetings
- He will be permitted to travel within the US with notice to pretrial services
- He cannot possess any firearms or explosive devices, even legally. Firearms must be removed from his home.
Schaffer is the first person of 400 arrests from the Capitol riots to plea guilty. as the Justice Department is working on the other cases. It is likely that Schaffer's cooperation will lead to him testifying in front of the grand jury, as suggested by a leaked prosecution report.