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Mississippi Man Arrested by FBI in Washington DC for Alleged Involvement in Jan 6 Capitol Hill Riot

Mississippi Man Arrested by FBI in Washington DC for Alleged Involvement in Jan 6 Capitol Hill Riot

A man named Thomas Eugene Tatum, who is commonly referred to as Tommy Tatum in a Washington, D.C. jail, has been taken into custody and is facing charges. Prosecutors claim that he obstructed and interfered with police officers who were protecting the U.S. Capitol during the certification of the 2020 election. Tatum had been regularly attending a nightly vigil for Jan. 6 defendants prior to his arrest.

A statement from the Justice Department revealed that Tatum, 48, was apprehended by the FBI in Oxford, Mississippi, despite being a resident of Greenville.

Tatum has established a strong presence in Washington, D.C., since Jan. 6. He testified as a defense witness during the trial of Jan. 6 defendant Brian Mock, who was convicted and sentenced to almost 3 years in prison in February for assaulting police officers at the Capitol. As a result, he was barred from attending the criminal trial of Kyle Fitzsimons. Fitzsimons, wearing a butcher’s coat personalized with his first name, has been sentenced to 87 months for his brutal attack on police officers who were safeguarding the Capitol. Fitzsimons severely assaulted former U.S. Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, resulting in Gonell’s retirement.

In a 2022 report by NBC News, Tatum, who identifies as an independent journalist, engaged in a confrontation with two police officers who were serving as witnesses for the prosecution. He taunted them while recording the incident on his phone.

According to federal prosecutors, video evidence from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 depicts Tatum at the Lower West Plaza, where some of the most severe violence took place. In the footage, Tatum can be seen verbally attacking and provoking the police, often standing just inches away from them. According to an FBI statement of facts, Tatum consistently disregarded instructions to step back or vacate the premises and frequently positioned himself at the forefront of the gatherings.

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Law enforcement officers were compelled to withdraw from a location where prosecutors allege Tatum was actively encouraging the crowd, loudly berating the police and accusing them of a “walk of shame.”

A man who frequently positioned himself amidst police lines and approaching rioters, including some of the most aggressive ones, was captured on video offering advice to those nearby: “Stay put, don’t retreat. Take a moment to collect yourself, take a breath, and regroup.”

A video clip from the footage recorded by Tatum has been included in court records, revealing rioters passing around a stolen riot shield during that moment. Amidst a faltering police line, Tatum reportedly continued to assertively provide directions to the mob, urging them to utilize their batons and weapons against their opponents.

According to prosecutors, Tatum approached officers while holding a flagpole, but the details of what happened next remain unclear. The FBI acknowledged in its statement of facts that the police bodycam footage is unclear. They highlighted that the video shows Tatum walking near the police line with his flagpole extended and parallel to the ground, in close proximity to the officers. However, the footage does not show the flagpole making contact with any officers.

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Tatum eventually relocated from the bustling Lower West Plaza to the equally chaotic Lower West Terrace. It is said that he assembled near the terrace tunnel and crossed its threshold before the police temporarily cleared the tunnel. At around 4:20 p.m., Tatum and other rioters made persistent attempts to push forward against a group of police officers, who were positioned out of sight of the CCTV camera, in order to prevent the rioters from reaching the U.S. Capitol.

According to investigators, Tatum was expelled from the scene in a gradual manner. Open source footage reveals that he remained near the tunnel exterior while officers were under active assault.

According to a magistrate docket entry, attorney Paul Chiniche has taken over the defense in Tatum’s case, replacing the previous federal public defender. Chiniche did not provide a response when asked for comment on Thursday. Tatum is scheduled to appear in court for an identity hearing on Friday, which will be conducted via video conference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan Virden, according to a notice on the docket.

No date has been set for the preliminary hearing in Washington, D.C. according to Law&Crime.

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