A Kansas man arrested and charged for partaking in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 asked a judge to release him from jail because he has chronic back pain. But according to prosecutors, his back pain didn’t prevent him from swinging an axe handle at police while he was storming the Capitol that day, WUSA reports.
William Chrestman, 47, who is an alleged member of the far-right group known as the Proud Boys, can be seen in photos wearing tactical gear and a respirator and carrying a wooden axe handle. He’s facing charges that include conspiracy, civil disorder, and threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer.
Chrestman was arrested in February along with four others connected to the Kansas City chapter of the Proud Boys.
Chrestman, who is a U.S. Army veteran, has been in a D.C. jail since February 23. Last month, one of Chrestman’s attorneys told the court that an injury Chrestman suffered in 2010 while employed as a sheet metal worker resulted in “long-term chronic back pain.”
“Mr. Chrestman was receiving disability and [being] treated by the Veterans’ Administration,” attorney Peter Cooper wrote. “His current detention status places him in danger of losing those significant benefits.” But a response filed by DOJ prosecutors contends that Chrestman’s alleged back issues didn’t stop him from wielding the axe handle he swung at police at the Capitol.
“Interestingly, the defendant’s back pain did not prevent him from storming the United States Capitol while armed with an axe handle, threatening law enforcement officers, and attempting to prevent Congressional proceedings, among other conduct,” Justice Department lawyers wrote, adding that he took an “active role in leading the co-defendants in his conspiracy and the crowd writ large in the attack on the Capitol.”