Capitol riot defendant pleads guilty to assaulting officer

A New Jersey man who was filmed punching an officer in the head entered a guilty plea Friday, becoming the first defendant to plead guilty to assaulting an officer during the January 6 Capitol riot.

Scott Fairlamb pleaded guilty to two crimes — obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers. In exchange for his plea, he faces a recommended sentence of 41 to 51 months in prison and agreed to cooperate with the FBI through an interview and pay $2,000 in restitution.

Fairlamb’s is one of the first guilty pleas to involve a violent incident during the Capitol attack. Although Fairlamb is at least the 32nd Capitol riot defendant to plead guilty, he is just the seventh to plead guilty to a felony, and the first to plead guilty to a charge of assaulting an officer.

Fairlamb had previously been indicted on 12 counts — which included civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding and engaging in physical violence in a restricted area.

Fairlamb — who prosecutors said is a former mixed martial arts fighter, gym owner and bar bouncer — was ordered detained after his January arrest, after prosecutors cited the gravity of his alleged offense and his lengthy criminal history, which includes at least two prior assault convictions.

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Prosecutors said Fairlamb, pictured at left, filmed himself carrying a baton and shouting, “What [do] patriots do? We f***ing disarm them and then we storm the f***ing Capitol!” In security footage pcitured on the right, prosecutors said Fairlamb can be seen carrying the baton into the Capitol building. Department of Justice

Authorities built their case against Fairlamb with the help of at least four tipsters, who shared videos, some taken by Fairlamb himself, that painted a picture of his conduct throughout the day January 6 as he climbed scaffolding, shouted at officers and entered the Capitol building.

In one video, prosecutors said, Fairlamb can be seen shoving and punching an officer on the West Front of the Capitol. In the video, Fairlamb can be seen taunting a line of officers who prosecutors said were trying to make their way through the heavy crowd outside the Capitol building. 

A media coalition, including CBS News, later received access to police body-worn video from the incident that was played in court as evidence. In the footage, Fairlamb can be seen approaching the officers and screaming: “Are you an American? Act like a f***ing one! … You guys have no idea what the f*** you’re doing. Not one single f***ing idea.” 

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Prosecutors said Fairlamb could be seen in video punching an officer in the front of his helmet. Department of Justice

Prosecutors said one officer, attempting to catch up with his colleagues, placed his hand on Fairlamb to move him out of the way. Fairlamb could be heard on video saying, “Don’t touch me, bro,” before shoving the officer so hard that he fell into others in the crowd, prosecutors said. 

The officer can then be seen putting his arm up defensively as Fairlamb punches him on the front of his helmet. 

Prosecutors wrote in a filing arguing against his release, “His actions show a capacity and wanton willingness to violate the law, to engage in acts of disorder and violence, and to harm others, including uniformed law enforcement.” 

Prosecutors said Fairlamb also breached the Capitol building on January 6 and came within seconds of encountering fleeing senators, entering the building just eight seconds after Officer Eugene Goodman ushered Senator Mitt Romney away from the nearby crowd.

According to prosecutors’ court filings, Fairlamb could be seen earlier in the day climbing scaffolding outside the building and screaming, “We ain’t f****n’ leaving either.” 

Later, he was filmed picking up a collapsible baton near the skirmish line with police on the Capitol West Terrace. In one video posted to his own Facebook account, prosecutors said Fairlamb could be seen carrying the baton and saying, “What Patriots do? We f****n’ disarm them and then we storm f****n’ the Capitol.” 

Shortly after, prosecutors said, Fairlamb entered the Capitol building with a baton in hand and left the building coughing after chemical agents were set off inside.

On January 6, prosecutors say Fairlamb posted to Facebook: “How far are you willing to go to defend our Constitution? Made the trip solo, looking to meet my fellow Patriots who share the same beliefs. Put up or shut up.”

When arguing against his pretrial release in March, prosecutors said Fairlamb had “violent impulses” and had demonstrated a disregard for the law, noting that he opened his gym in May 2020 in defiance of the New Jersey governor’s stay-at-home orders.

His social media accounts also show that he subscribed to the QAnon conspiracy theory, prosecutors said, and a tipster shared a post from Fairlamb’s Instagram account that included threats against Congresswoman Cori Bush. 

In his post, prosecutors said Fairlamb wrote, “@coribush You’re full of s***, shoulda lit your ass up,” and includes images of other violent posts, including, “I wish someone would put a knee on your neck for spreading lies,” and “When they defund they [sic] police you shoot back.”

In a recent interview with CBSN, Bush explained her position on “defunding the police” while also defending her spending on private security, saying that she frequently receives death threats.