WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A lawyer for the man nicknamed the “QAnon Shaman,” who faces criminal charges in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, asked a federal judge on Wednesday to release his client, saying he poses no danger to the public.
The man, Jacob Chansley, is in federal custody awaiting trial on six criminal charges, including violent entry.
On Jan. 6, Chansley joined a crowd of hundreds of supporters of Republican then-President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol in an unsuccessful bid to stop Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.
Defense attorney Albert Watkins argued in U.S. District Court in Washington that the flagpole Chansley carried inside the Capitol “was not able to be used as a deadly weapon.”
Rioters beat police officers with flagpoles and other objects during the assault, injuring scores of police officers and leaving five dead, including a Capitol Police officer.
Chansley was famously photographed inside the U.S. Senate Chamber wearing a horned hat, and is known for his support of the QAnon conspiracy theory that casts Trump as a savior figure and elite Democrats as a cabal of Satanist pedophiles and cannibals.
Prosecutors say Chansley left a note for then-Vice President Mike Pence warning: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”
He is undergoing a mental health evaluation by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to determine whether he is mentally competent to stand trial.
Watkins said on Wednesday that he expects the results of that exam would “be forthcoming in short order.”
In the hearing, he acknowledged his client needs mental health services, a problem that was documented as far back as 2006 when Chansley served in the U.S. military.
But Watkins said a mental health disorder should not trigger a civil commitment, and said Chansley could get the treatment he needs back home in Phoenix.
A federal prosecutor on Wednesday told the judge that if Chansley is deemed incompetent, he cannot be released, and it is “not ripe” yet for the judge to revisit whether Chansley should be detained until the psychiatric evaluation is completed.
Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; editing by Jonathan Oatis