A decade before prosecutors say Ryan Samsel, of Bristol, was one of the first in a mob of rioters to attack police Jan. 6 outside the U.S. Capitol, he was convicted of smashing a hot pizza in the face of his pregnant girlfriend, pouring beer over her head, and then shoving her into a canal and holding her head under water until she told him she loved him.
Two years before that, he was convicted of holding another woman against her will for five hours and choking her to the point of unconsciousness.
And three years before that, he pleaded guilty to running yet another woman off the road, punching her windshield and threatening to kill her in a dispute over $60.
But on Friday, it was a beating that Samsel endured — not delivered — that brought him back before a federal judge in Washington, pleading to be transferred out of a D.C.-area jail
Samsel, 38, maintains he was beaten by two correctional officers in March during a fight over toilet paper that left him with a broken nose, a dislocated jaw, and persistent seizures. Ever since, his lawyer said, he has been denied adequate medical care at the facilities where he has been held while awaiting trial for his Capitol conduct.
Prosecutors raised Samsel’s lengthy history of violence — including at least four convictions for past attacks on women — in a bid to make sure he remained in custody in D.C., where they could assure he would not be released.
But U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui appeared inclined Friday to grant Samsel’s request — if only because doing so would not put him back on the streets but at another correctional facility in Pennsylvania, where he is wanted on a probation violation for his participation in the Capitol riot. Perhaps, there, the judge mused, he could get the treatment he needs.
Still, said Faruqui, “there’s quite a bit of facts here that give me a concern about [Samsel’s] dangerousness. I do sincerely believe detention is appropriate.”
Samsel’s alleged behavior at the Capitol is only the latest in a long string of offenses.
In Washington, FBI agents have accused him of knocking down a female Capitol Police officer while toppling metal barricades Jan. 6.
Moments before the assault — which left her with a concussion from hitting her head on some nearby steps as she fell — social media video shows Samsel storming up to the woman, raising his fists and turning his red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap backward as if, prosecutors say, he was preparing for a fight.
Samsel was on probation at the time for the pizza-related assault on his ex-girlfriend, which netted him convictions on assault, reckless endangerment, unlawful restraint, and witness intimidation charges in 2011.
And just months before his arrest in the Capitol case, Burlington County authorities issued a warrant charging him in a separate matter. This one involving a woman who has accused him of repeatedly breaking into her house — in violation of a restraining order — to rape and choke her until she passed out.
In fact, Samsel has been convicted twice previously in other incidents involving choking women. And in 2007, police investigated an incident in which he leaped into another man’s car and repeatedly punched him in his face until he knocked his front teeth out.
Samsel’s attorney, Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, did not address her client’s past reign of violence in court Friday, instead focusing on what had happened to him in the D.C. jail.
There, Samsel maintains, after feuding with the guards March 20 over how long it took to get toilet paper, they moved him to another cell later that evening, where he says they restrained him with zip-ties and “beat him to a bloody pulp.” He did not regain consciousness until the next day.
Investigators have not questioned that Samsel was assaulted — though who was responsible remains under investigation by jail and federal authorities.
Regardless, Pasqualini said Friday, Samsel still suffers from seizures and has been unable to receive adequate care in correctional facilities in Washington.
Despite the inclination Faruqui expressed to agree to Samsel’s transfer to a Pennsylvania correctional facility, the judge did not order the move Friday. He deferred his decision until next week so both sides could investigate the logistics of a transfer that would ensure Samsel would not inadvertently be released.
Before the proceedings concluded, prosecutors read a statement from the woman Samsel is accused of assaulting during the Capitol attack.
The officer, who has not been publicly named, said she suffered a concussion Jan. 6 and has not been able to return to work since. She balked at the suggestion that Samsel should now be given consideration that he has been denying his many victims for years.
“Now, you’re asking to be set free?” she asked. “When will we be set free of the memories and scars of that day? … No more women should have to fear injury at his hand.”
The Justice Department has charged 465 people in connection with the Capitol riot. At least 43 of them also hail from Pennsylvania.