‘A serious danger’: Judge denies bond for Ga. man accused in Jan. 6 assault

A federal judge denied bond for Jack Wade Whitton of Locust Grove, who awaits trial for charges related to the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

Credit: FBI

Credit: FBI

A federal judge denied bond for Jack Wade Whitton of Locust Grove, who awaits trial for charges related to the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

Locust Grove resident Jack Wade Whitton will stay in jail until charges related to his alleged role in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot are settled, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Senior Judge Emmet G. Sullivan cited the brutality of Whitton’s alleged attack on two police officers and his apparent lack of remorse as reasons why the contractor and former CrossFit instructor could not be allowed out on bond.

Whitton, 30, is the latest of at least nine defendants with Georgia roots to be charged with felonies related to the Jan. 6 insurrection. He also is one a handful of the more than 400 people arrested from across the nation to be charged in some of the most brutal fighting with police attempting to protect the Capitol.

Video evidence shows a man prosecutors say is Whitton striking a police officer with a metal crutch, then kicking a prone officer before dragging him by his helmet into an angry crowd. Prosecutors blame Whitton for non-life threatening injuries to two police officers.

In a second encounter with police, Whitton allegedly told an officer, “You’re going to die tonight.” And in text messages, Whitton told a friend about his encounter with a “bad cop,” prosecutors said.

“Yea I fed him to the people. Idk his status. And don’t care tbh,” he allegedly wrote in the text.

Whitton faces multiple felony charges, including assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon, which carries a possible 20-year prison sentence. The violent attack, coupled with Whitton’s apparent lack of remorse, weighed heavily in the judge’s decision to deny bond.

In an extensive, 39-page opinion, Sullivan wrote the “callous disregard Mr. Whitton displayed for the safety of others on January 6, 2021, ... speaks volumes about the danger he may pose to the community.” Sullivan, a Clinton appointee, cited former President Donald Trump’s continued false claims about the November presidential election as one reason why he denied Whitton’s request for bond.

“As was true in (co-defendant Jeffrey) Sabol’s case, such comments reflect the continued threat posed by individuals like Mr. Whitton, who has demonstrated that he is willing and able to engage in extreme and terrifying levels of violence against law enforcement with a chilling disregard for the rule of law and the lives of law enforcement, seemingly based on mistaken beliefs about the illegitimacy of the current administration,” the judge wrote.

Magistrate Judge Regina Cannon granted bond for Whitton a day after his April 1 arrest, but federal prosecutors appealed the decision, keeping Whitton locked up in the federal jail in Lovejoy. At a hearing last week, his defense attorney said he had no prior criminal history and presented dozens of letters and affidavits signed by Whitton’s friends and relatives attesting to Whitton’s “strong moral code.”

Sullivan wrote that Whitton’s “history and moral code did not prevent him from committing horrifying acts of violence, and they do little to dissuade the court from finding that Mr. Whitton poses a serious danger to his community.”

Sullivan said Whitton is innocent until proven guilty, but he said extensive video footage, including from police body cameras, and Whitton’s own text messages to friends after the Capitol assault are “overwhelming” evidence.

“Mr. Whitton’s words and movements during the riot indicate he acted deliberately and dangerously,” Sullivan wrote. “Ample video, photographic, and text message evidence proffered by the government confirms Mr. Whitton’s violent acts, which are among some of the most violent acts that took place that day according to the government.”

Whitton can appeal the decision. Earlier, the D.C. Court of Appeals overturned a similar decision by the district court to hold Eric Gavelek Munchel and Lisa Marie Eisenhart without bond. Munchel and Eisenhart are among the handful of rioters to breach the Senate chamber. They have both been released and are on house arrest with GPS monitoring pending a settlement of the charges against them.