Capitol Breach Suspect Who Violated Terms of Pre-Trial Release Won’t Be Jailed: Judge

February 9, 2021 Updated: February 17, 2021

A Utah man facing charges in the Capitol breach incident will not be sent back to jail despite having violated the terms of his pre-trial release orders, a judge ruled Monday.

While John Sullivan violated a release order by buying a smartphone, attempting to access Twitter, and trying to promote his organization, Insurgence USA, in an interview on Infowars, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather declined to send him back to prison, according to Buzzfeed News.

Meriweather expressed concerns that Sullivan violated the order but said she didn’t believe he poses a danger to the community, according to the report. She cautioned that if Sullivan continued to violate court orders, he may be jailed ahead of his trial, but said that, “I don’t believe we are there yet in this case.”

Sullivan’s attorney Steven Kiersh said that there could have been miscommunications about the restrictions on his client’s Internet use and buying a smartphone.

Sullivan was released conditionally without bail in mid-January after he was arrested and charged for his alleged activities during the Jan. 6 Capitol breach. He faces charges of violating restricted building or grounds, civil disorder, and violent entry or disorderly conduct, according to a complaint (pdf).

Prosecutors allege that he entered the U.S. Capitol through a window, pushed past Capitol Police once inside, and admitted to “filming and being depicted in video footage that shows him present, outside of the Speaker’s Lobby within the U.S. Capitol, at the shooting of a woman by a U.S. Capitol Police officer.” The woman was identified as Ashli (Ashley) Babbitt, an Air Force veteran.

Sullivan made his first appearance in court via a virtual hearing in Salt Lake City on Jan. 15. Magistrate Judge Daphne Oberg of the United States District Court for the District of Utah ordered that Sullivan remain off social media before his pre-trial and be put under strict Internet monitoring. She also said that any violation of the bail conditions would “not be taken lightly,” reported Deseret News.

He was released under the condition that he surrenders his passport, wears a GPS monitor, undergoes a mental health check, and remains home except for court-approved activities including work, religious services, and medical treatment. Sullivan also has to maintain or seek full-time employment and stop working for Insurgence USA, an activist group he founded, although he doesn’t have to surrender control of the group. The group calls itself anti-fascist and opposes police brutality.

Prosecutors had argued that Sullivan should remain in custody until the legal case resolves, alleging that Sullivan “thrives at inciting chaos,” the outlet reported.

Sullivan is one of over 150 people who have been charged in connection with the Capitol breach.

Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.

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