A King of Prussia man alleged to have beaten a Washington police officer at the Capitol with a Trump flag until the metal flagpole broke in his hands — then documented the day’s events in his planner — has been charged for his purported role in the Jan. 6 riot.
According to documents unsealed in federal court in Washington on Wednesday, Howard Richardson is charged with several offenses including assaulting an officer using a dangerous weapon, civil disorder, and act of physical violence on the Capitol grounds.
According to court filings, body-camera footage from several police officers showed Richardson standing in the crowd on the west plaza of the Capitol on Jan. 6, when a mob stormed the building in support of President Donald Trump.
Sporting a windbreaker reading “Brigantine Beach” and a red baseball cap, Richardson is shown on body-camera footage approaching a police officer in riot gear posted behind bicycle-rack barricades, allegedly yelling “Here it comes!” before bashing the officer three times with the metal pole.
Richardson only stopped swinging after the flagpole broke in his hands, court documents said.
Appearing briefly via Zoom from the Philadelphia Federal Detention Center before U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard A. Lloret on Wednesday, Richardson said little. His attorney, Thomas C. Egan III, told The Inquirer that he looks forward to arguing against Richardson’s detention at a hearing this week.
“As for the facts of the case, we reserve comment,” Egan said.
Richardson was arrested in October in Montgomery County on unrelated assault charges for an incident involving a neighbor on a motorcycle outside his home. Egan, who also represents Richardson in that matter, said it was a “self-defense case.”
During a search of Richardson’s home, federal agents found the Brigantine Beach windbreaker, red hat, and khaki pants he was seen wearing on Jan. 6. They also found a spiral notebook day planner — which Richardson told agents was his — with handwritten notes detailing a timeline of his activities on the day of the insurrection.
According to the planner, Richardson parked in D.C. around 11 a.m. and made it to the Capitol by 12:15 p.m. At 1 p.m., he wrote that the “gates were breeched,” and between 1:30 and 1:45 — when he is alleged to have assaulted the officer — he noted that he was “moving up to steps.” At 2 p.m. he wrote he was “getting pepper sprayed,” noting there were “no trash cans” and “no Port-A-Potties.” Richardson documented in his planner that he “started to leave” around 3:30 — a timeline that corroborated with Capitol surveillance footage and his cellphone records.
Text messages to an acquaintance showed Richardson’s plans to attend the rally and stay at a nearby Hyatt hotel, as well as a selfie with a Trump flag similar to the one attached to the metal pole he allegedly used to hit the officer, according to court filings.
While in custody, Richardson told FBI agents he drove down I-95 from King of Prussia to the “Stop the Steal” rally, arriving too late to see Trump speak, and eventually made his way to the Capitol, according to court documents. He told agents he watched as others knocked down the bicycle-rack barriers in attempts to reach the Capitol building, and was hit with tear gas as a group close to him attempted to ram “a large object” into the police line.
He first told FBI agents he had struck the police officer after the officer swung a piece of metal at him, but then changed his story after watching body-camera footage of the altercation. He maintained that he acted in response to “something coming at him,” according to court filings, and told the government he was provoked by others in the crowd.
“I’m not saying this is the best behavior I could have done here,” he told agents.
Richardson, currently in federal custody in Philadelphia, is scheduled for a detention hearing Friday.
More than 50 Pennsylvanians have been arrested in relation to the Capitol riot.