An Upper Merion Township man accused of assaulting a police officer with a metal flagpole flying a Trump flag during the Jan. 6 insurrection documented his whereabouts hour-by-hour in a diary.
Agents who searched Howard Charles Richardson’s home in King of Prussia found the day planner along with a black and blue windbreaker Richardson is seen wearing in police video from the riot and Capitol breach, a charging document filed in federal court in Washington says.
Richardson, 71, was arrested in October after FBI agents reviewing the video determined the man in the blue windbreaker matched a booking photo taken after Richardson was arrested for allegedly assaulting a person riding a motorcycle outside his home in September. Cellphone data and other evidence show he was near the Capitol during the riot.
In connection with the Capitol riot, Richardson is charged with engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds, civil disorder, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers with a dangerous weapon, among other charges. He surrendered Tuesday and had his first appearance in federal court in Philadelphia, the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington said.
Court documents do not say whether Richardson has a lawyer or if he was granted bail.
Since the siege that forced members of Congress to flee to safety and interrupted the counting of Electoral College votes from the 2020 presidential election, more than 670 people have been charged with related crimes. At least 57 hail from Pennsylvania, according to the George Washington University Program on Extremism.
Richardson told FBI agents after his arrest that he drove to Washington the morning of Jan. 6 to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally but arrived too late to hear former President Donald Trump speak. He made his way toward the Capitol and saw people in a large crowd knock over bicycle rack barriers as a line of city police officers retreated.
He told agents he joined the crowd and moved closer to Capitol and was close to a group that was trying to ram a large object into a police line. As a result, Richardson was pepper-sprayed, but he recovered and returned to a position close to the police line, according to the charging document.
Video from Washington Metropolitan Police officers’ body cameras shows Richardson, unprovoked by officers, taking a metal flagpole with a blue Trump flag and hitting a metropolitan police officer three times. In the video, Richardson is heard yelling “here it comes” before hitting the officer. He stopped swinging only after the flagpole broke in his hands, according to the charging document.
Richardson admitted he swung the flagpole at an officer, the court document says, but he maintained that he swung at the officer only after the officer swung a piece of metal at him.“I’m not saying this is the best behavior I could have done here,” Richardson said, adding that he was provoked by others in the crowd, according to the document.
In an Oct. 25 search of Richardson’s home, agents found the black and blue jacket and a day planner that Richardson acknowledged was his. In it, he wrote he parked at 11 a.m., was at the front of the Capitol at 12:15 p.m., that “gates were breeched” at 1 p.m. and that he was moving up the steps between 1:30 and 1:45 p.m. The diary noted he was pepper-sprayed at 2 p.m. and that he started to leave the Capitol at 3:30 p.m. Surveillance footage shows Richardson walking away from the Capitol during that time frame, the charging document says.
In addition to the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, the case is being prosecuted by the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
The case is being investigated by the Fort Washington office of the FBI and the FBI’s Washington Field Office with assistance from the Metropolitan Police Department, the Upper Merion Township Police Department and the U.S. Capitol Police.
Source: Berkshire mont