Locust Grove man pleads guilty to assaulting police in Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Jack Wade Whitton Jr. was the latest Georgian arrested in connection with the assault on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.

Credit: FBI

Credit: FBI

Jack Wade Whitton Jr. was the latest Georgian arrested in connection with the assault on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.

A Locust Grove man who reportedly joined in some of the most violent encounters against police during the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, pleaded guilty Tuesday to assaulting officers, a felony carrying a possible 20-year prison sentence.

Jack Wade Whitton, 32, was caught on video during the riot striking a police officer with a metal crutch and kicking a prone officer and dragging him by his helmet into an angry mob of pro-Trump rioters in brutal hand-to-hand combat on the Capitol’s West Terrace.

“You’re going to die tonight,” Whitton told an officer during one of two sustained assaults on the Capitol by the group, prosecutors said.

Later in the afternoon, Whitton climbed up a wall separating the upper and lower terraces and threw an object at a line of officers, prosecutors said.

According to court records, Whitton allegedly texted a friend after the riot and described the officer he assaulted as a “bad cop.”

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

That apparent lack of remorse convinced Emmet G. Sullivan, senior judge of the U.S. District Count in Washington, D.C., to deny Whitton’s request to be released on bond.

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 wrote at the time. “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.”

The fencing contractor and former CrossFit Instructor was charged along with eight other men who were arrested for fighting police on the West Terrace. He is the second of the group to accept a plea deal.

In arguing for his release on bond soon after his arrest, Whiton’s original attorney, Benjamin Alper of Marietta, said his client was compelled to violence by a “mob mentality” that day and said he had no prior history of violence and did not belong to any extremist group. The argument was not persuasive to Sullivan, who commented the evidence against Whitton was “overwhelmingly strong.”

Whitton is scheduled to be sentenced March 6. He has been in the federal detention center in Clayton County since his arrest in April 2021. Typically defendants who plead guilty in Jan. 6 cases are required under their plea agreement to cooperate if they have knowledge of other defendants who participated in the riot.

Of the 22 defendants with Georgia ties so far arrested in the sweeping Jan. 6 investigation, Whitton becomes the 13th to plead guilty. Nationally, more than 870 people have been arrested, about 380 of whom have entered guilty pleas.