Plea deal offered to Capitol rioter accused of wielding stick at cops

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FILE PHOTO: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather in Washington

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Prosecutors have proposed a plea bargain to a Virginia man accused of attacking police with a large stick during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, lawyers for the government and defendant told a court hearing on Wednesday.

Details of the plea deal offered to Jonathan Mellis, 34, of Williamsburg, Virginia, were not disclosed during the public portion of a status hearing on the case before U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan.

Mellis faces ten riot-related charges, including assaulting officers using a dangerous weapon. One or more of the charges are felonies, court records indicate.

Court records also show that Mellis has been detained without bond since his arrest in February. In May, Judge Sullivan denied a defense request that Mellis be released from custody for a week so he could attend his father's funeral.

An FBI statement of facts includes multiple pictures of Mellis wielding a large stick at officers guarding the Capitol building. The statement cites video footage showing Mellis "repeatedly striking and making stabbing movements towards the officers with the weapon in his hand" and alleges he was "attempting to strike the officers’ necks between their helmets and body-armor where they are not protected."

The FBI says this kind of attack could have been "more than sufficient to cause serious physical injury or death." The FBI quotes Facebook postings in which Mellis, using the pseudonym "Jon Gennaro", said: "We proudly take responsibility for storming the castle."

Justice Department figures show that more than 570 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states on charges related to the Capitol riot, including over 170 charged with assaulting or impeding police.

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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