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East TN man charged with taking part in US Capitol riots, throwing flagpole at officers

Joseph L. Padilla faces six charges, a federal complaint filed in Washington, D.C. states.

An East Tennessee man who took part in the Jan. 6 march on the U.S. Capitol clashed with police on its steps and threw a flagpole at officers as they tried to prevent Trump supporters from storming the building, federal documents state.

Joseph Lino Padilla, 40, of Cleveland faces six charges including assaulting a law officer, obstructing law enforcement during civil unrest, entering restricted grounds without lawful entry with a deadly or dangerous weapon and violent entry or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

He was charged by the FBI in a complaint dated Monday and filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Credit: Submitted
Joseph Padilla at his arrest Tuesday in Cleveland

Padilla appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga after his arrest. He waived his right to a detention hearing there, and will now face further prosecution in Washington. He was being held in the Bradley County Jail awaiting transport to Washington, WRCB-TV reported.

At one point during the riots he wore a SCUBA mask, which police jerked from his head, records state.

Padilla is also known as "Jose Padilla," according to authorities. He used that name in a Facebook account on which he posted comments about the march.

Padilla is among dozens of rioters facing federal charges as a result of the siege, which followed a Mall rally during which Donald Trump, the now former president, urged them to "fight like hell."

Credit: FBI
Joseph L. Padilla, who has a Cleveland, Tenn., address, has been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot and storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Hundreds of marchers, many carrying Trump banners, forced their way into the Capitol as members of Congress prepared to certify the Nov. 3 election, which Democrat Joe Biden won. Trump had been saying for weeks that the election had been "stolen," although election officials in states across the country reported no mass abnormalities in the vote.

The attack played out on live TV across the world. Professional and amateur photographers and videographers captured scores of images of people taking part in the riots.

Many of those have been used to track down participants.

Credit: FBI
Padilla at the Capitol with a SCUBA mask.

Padilla was part of the crowd outside the Capitol about 1:30 p.m. that day, the FBI alleges. Several videos including Metropolitan Police Department bodycam recorded him there, the FBI alleges.

The FBI also included numerous images of Padilla at the scene. 

A tipster would later tell agents he had "recently been immersed in the alt-right and had a “Q-Anon mentality," records state.

According to the complaint, Padilla was pushed away from a barricade line when he approached it. He can be seen wearing a dark blue jacket, the same one he wore in a photo posted on his Facebook page dating to 2012, according to federal agents.

Credit: FBI
Padilla at a police barrier.

He also wore a SCUBA mask to protect his eyes and a black backpack.

"The MPD (bodycam) captured PADILLA pushing the barricade in front of him and shouting, “Push! Push! F----ing push!” the complaint states.

Moments later as he pushed against the police barricade, officers pulled off his mask and began shoving him and hitting him with batons to make him stop.

Padilla would later complain on social media that the officers had been the aggressors, hurting him and causing him to lose consciousness twice.

Credit: FBI
Padilla after his mask was removed.

“I was right there. I have the wounds to prove it. I pushed the rails, I pushed the stairs, and then pushed the doorway. I was beaten unconscious twice, sprayed more times than I care to count, received strikes from batons that should have been lethal (Multiple temple and carotid strikes) except that God was on my side,” one post allegedly by Padilla states on a site called thedonald.win.

Padilla helped rioters as they began moving a large sign on wheels with a metal frame towards the barricade, records state. He and others began using a metal sign as a "battering ram" against Metro Police.

Credit: FBI
Padilla shown with the large metal sign.

Later, Padilla could be seen along with other rioters massing in front of a law enforcement line inside the archway of the U.S. Capitol lower west terrace doors, the FBI alleges.

Images show him with a flagpole.

"He throws the flagpole at the officers who are simultaneously being attacked by rioters," records state.

The next day on Facebook Padilla assured his friends that the people taking part in the attack weren't "antifa."

They were "Patriots who were trying to Restore the Republic after being attacked by the cops, who struck first," the FBI says the post read. "Even those who broke the windows next to the doorway to the Capitol were Patriots trying to find a way to turn the Flanks of the cops.”

On Jan. 8, Padilla posted a link to video taken from the Capitol steps the afternoon of Jan. 6. Titled "Most Beautiful thing I saw in DC on Wednesday," it was still on his Facebook page as of Tuesday.

Credit: Padilla Facebook
Screengrab of Padilla's Facebook post.

He declined Jan. 14 to speak to the FBI, telling them, "I do not answer questions."

Authorities used Padilla's Tennessee driver's license picture to help confirm his participation in the riots. On social media he also referenced living near Dalton, which is in North Georgia south of Chattanooga. Cleveland is north of Chattanooga.

"Through a search of law enforcement databases, your affiant confirmed PADILLA’s address as being in near proximity to Dalton, Georgia." the federal complaint states.