Prosecutor Admits DC Police Officers Acted as Provocateurs at US Capitol on Jan. 6

By Joseph M. Hanneman
Joseph M. Hanneman
Joseph M. Hanneman
Joseph M. Hanneman is a reporter for The Epoch Times with a focus on the January 6 Capitol incursion and its aftermath, as well as general Wisconsin news. In 2022, he helped to produce "The Real Story of Jan. 6," an Epoch Times documentary about the events that day. Joe has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. He can be reached at:
March 24, 2023Updated: March 30, 2023

Three D.C. Metropolitan Police Department undercover officers acted as provocateurs at the northwest steps of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a federal prosecutor admitted in court papers.

The admission came in a March 24 filing before U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras that seeks to keep video footage shot by the officers under court seal.

Prosecutors accused the defendant in the case—William Pope of Topeka, Kansas—of an “illegitimate” attempt to unmask the video as part of his alleged strategy to try the case in the news media. Pope filed a motion to remove the court seal on Feb. 21.

“The defendant is not entitled to ‘undesignate’ these videos to share them with unlimited third parties,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Moran said. “His desire to try his case in the media rather than in a court of law is illegitimate, and the government has met its burden to show the necessity of the protective order.”

Video footage long hidden under court seal has become a major topic, especially with prosecutors disclosing the involvement of multiple FBI informants in a number of high-profile Jan. 6 cases.

Pope is seeking to lift the court seal on the undercover video toward obtaining full access to video evidence held by the government. Pope is representing himself in the criminal case being prosecuted against him. At a hearing on March 3, Contreras seemed sympathetic to Pope’s motion to unmask the videos.

Epoch Times Photo
“Officer 1,” a member of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Electronic Surveillance Unit, records video while he shouts at protesters to climb the northwest steps to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Metropolitan Police Department/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

“The officer clearly incited that area, and we still don’t have video from all other undercover MPD,” Pope told The Epoch Times. “And as the numerous informants in the Proud Boys trial demonstrates, we are only just beginning to scratch the surface on FBI involvement.”

The undercover video footage—a portion of which was posted on Rumble on March 24—shows three members of the MPD’s Electronic Surveillance Unit approaching the Capitol’s northwest steps. One of the men, while surveying the crowd, states, “Someone’s going to get shot.”

Officer 2 replies, “They’re not going to shoot anybody.”

Along the edge of the Capitol property, Officer 2 encourages one protester to go up to the building.

“Go join ’em then,” he says. The man replies, “No, I’ve got my bike to guard.”

The men engage in banter on the walk across the west Capitol lawn.

‘Never Seen Anything Like This’

“This is amazing,” Officer 2 says. Officer 1, who was recording the GoPro video, replies, “Yeah, I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Nearly 30 members of the Electronic Surveillance Unit were assigned to duty on Jan. 6, 2021, some of whom were gathering evidence on crowd activity. Members wore special bands on their left wrists to identify themselves as part of the unit, according to the MPD’s 96-page Jan. 6 action plan.

Officer 1 repeatedly joins in chants of “Drain the swamp!” and “Our house! Our house! Our house!”

A little closer to the Capitol, the video footage captures a protester shouting: “Joe Biden! We wanna hear you speak, you [expletive] pedophile satanist [expletive]!”

A short time later, Officer 1 joins the crowd in a “USA!” chant, repeating the phrase five times.

At the foot of the northwest stairs, someone leans part of a bicycle rack against the balustrade. As a protester climbs up the makeshift ladder, Officer 1 shouts: “C’mon, man, let’s go! Leave that [expletive].”

Officer 1 gets help from a protester climbing onto the balustrade of the steps. Then, surveying the people moving up the staircase, he shouts, “C’mon, go, go, go!”

Officer 1 encourages the crowd to move up the stairs with repeated shouts of “Keep going!”

Once Officer 1 jumps from the balustrade onto the stairs, he passes someone he knew, a man in a blue sweatshirt who was wearing a dark cap, protective goggles, and what appears to be a Halloween mask.

Epoch Times Photo
Two undercover Metropolitan Police Department officers walk behind Ashli Babbitt on the northwest side of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. One had earlier remarked “someone would get shot.” (William Pope via U.S. District Court/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

“Tim!” the officer says, to which the unidentified man replies, “What’s going on, bro?”

Walking on a sidewalk next to the Capitol, Officer 1 hears a protester say, “Now they’re letting everybody in, there ain’t nowhere to go.”

Officer 1 replies, “I think it’s going to … they’re going to trap everyone in.”

“This video clearly evidences undercover law enforcement officers urging the crowds to advance up the stairs and scaffolding towards the Capitol on January 6,” Pope wrote in an earlier case filing. “The government may claim that incidents like this did not happen, but the facts show they did.”

Moran, the prosecutor, acknowledges such in a motion filed on March 24.

“The specific footage, GoPro video recorded by an MPD police officer who was stationed at the Capitol in an evidence-gathering capacity, captures the officer shouting words to the effect of, “Go! Go! Go!” Moran wrote.

“At other times in these videos, the officer and the two other plainclothes officers with him appear to join the crowd around them in various chants, including “drain the swamp,” “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”, and “Whose house? Our house!”

Moran also argued against unsealing large amounts of closed-circuit television (CCTV) security video, which she said could put officers at risk.

“There are very specific and highly worrisome risks associated with the specific videos the defendant seeks to share en masse,” she wrote.

“Given the highly volatile nature of the discourse surrounding these cases, releasing the identities of the officers depicted in these videos—officers the defendant now claims to have instigated the entire attack on the U.S. Capitol—would surely put the lives of those officers at risk.”

Pope told The Epoch Times that he never made such a claim. He hasn’t yet filed a response to the government’s memorandum.

Another video that Pope discovered in his research shows Officer 2 and Officer 3 walking behind Ashli Babbitt on the northwest steps. About an hour later, Babbitt was shot at the entry of the Speaker’s Lobby by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd. She died a half-hour later.