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Two California men arrested, accused of spraying officers with chemicals at Capitol riot

David Nicholas Dempsey and Jeffrey Scott Brown face multiple charges for their alleged roles in deadly riot.

Two Southern California men, including one with a history of political violence, were arrested Thursday and accused of spraying chemicals at police during the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol, officials said.

David Nicholas Dempsey, 34, of Los Angeles, and Jeffrey Scott Brown, 54, of Santa Ana, were picked up and charged with various offenses connected to the deadly attack by rioters, who sought to overturn the results of the presidential election, federal officials said.

Dempsey was charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, use of a dangerous weapon against police, civil disorder, entering a restricted area with a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Brown was charged with inflicting bodily harm on an officer, obstruction of law enforcement, engaging in physical violence while in a restricted area and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Images released by the Department of Justice show David Nicholas Dempsey on January 6, 2021 at the Capitol.
Images released by the Department of Justice show David Nicholas Dempsey on January 6, 2021 at the Capitol.Department of Justice

Dempsey became known as #FlagGaiterCopHater on social media due to his distinctive red, white and blue face covering, according to a criminal complaint.

He was captured on a YouTube video in front of gallows built near the Capitol, demanding that political opponents of former President Donald Trump be hanged, the complaint said.

"They don't need a jail cell. They need to hang from these," the defendant said, according to the court document. "Hopefully one day soon we really have someone hanging from one of these."

Surveillance cameras captured "#FlagGaiterCopHater attacking law enforcement officers" by "spraying them with what appears to be a lacrimal agent," the complaint said.

Dempsey also employed other weapons to attack police on Jan. 6, authorities said.

"In a number of photos discovered by the FBI ... #FlagGaiterCopHater can be seen using various objects, including a crutch and a metal pole, as bludgeoning weapons or projectiles against the line of law enforcement officers protecting the Capitol building," the complaint said.

Dempsey remained in jail on Friday and is scheduled for a detention hearing on Tuesday, a Department of Justice spokesman said.

Back in October 2019, Dempsey was arrested and accused of using bear spray on a group of protesters at an anti-Trump rally on the Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles County prosecutors said.

He pleaded no contest to felony use of tear gas and was sentenced to two years in state prison this past May, prosecutors said on Friday.

It wasn't immediately clear if Dempsey had started or completed his state sentence when federal authorities arrested him at his home in the northwest L.A. neighborhood of Van Nuys on Thursday.

Dempsey's lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

A man who picked up a publicly listed phone number for Dempsey identified himself as the defendant's brother and said he didn't know if the accused rioter was in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6.

"I wouldn't consider him violent in any way. He has a golden heart, he's soft," the man said before hanging up.

CCTV footage also showed Brown being handed a "can of spray" from another rioter, before "deploying" that spray for "several seconds in the direction of police," according to the criminal complaint against him.

A YouTube video with the title "Scenes of Chaos Captured Inside US Capitol as Crowd Challenges Police" showed Brown in a mob of rioters who rip a gas mask off a police officer's face "and blood can be seen in his mouth," the complaint said.

"Based on my training and experience, I assess this spray was pepper spray or a similar chemical spray," according to an FBI agent.

Brown posted a $100,000 bond and was released on Thursday, the Justice Department said. His lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.

One Capitol intruder that day, Ashli Babbitt, was fatally shot by police.

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick suffered a fatal stroke in the riot's immediate aftermath. At least four other police officers who responded to the Jan. 6 attack have since died from suicide.

Despite the violence of the day, Congress still formally accepted Electoral College results, showing President Joe Biden beating Trump 306-232. Biden also carried the popular vote over Trump by more than 7 million ballots.