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West Virginia lawmaker charged after recording himself storming Capitol

Nearly 32,000 people signed a petition demanding that Republican Del. Derrick Evans step down.
State Del. Derrick Evans, left, takes the oath of office Dec. 14 in Charleston, W.Va.
State Del. Derrick Evans, left, takes the oath of office Dec. 14 in Charleston, W.Va.Perry Bennett / West Virginia Legislature via AP

A West Virginia legislator who recorded and then deleted a video of himself storming the U.S. Capitol with hundreds of rioters has been charged.

Del. Derrick Evans, a Republican West Virginia state representative, was charged Friday, NBC News confirmed.

Nearly 32,000 people signed a petition demanding Evans step down. So far, he has resisted the pressure to resign.

"Remove him from his seat for leading and participating in terrorism and going against the constitution and rule of law," the petition reads.

Evans livestreamed a video on his Facebook page Wednesday afternoon outside the Capitol as rioters who support President Donald Trump pushed against a police barricade.

"Bring the tear gas. We don't care," Evans is heard yelling. "We're taking this country back whether you like it or not. Today's a test run. We're taking this country back."

At another point, he's heard asking, "Where's the Proud Boys?" referring to the far-right, all-male, self-described group of "Western chauvinists."

As rioters push past officers, Evans says he hasn't touched anything and is just there to watch. Eventually, the group makes its way inside the Capitol. Evans tells people not to vandalize before yelling, "Patriots inside, baby."

Evans, who deleted the video, defended his actions, saying in a Facebook statement that he attended the protest as "an independent member of the media to film history."

"As many of you know, for the last few years, I have traveled across the country to film many different events," he wrote. "Today, I had the opportunity to film another event in D.C. I want to assure you all that I did not have any negative interactions with law enforcement nor did I participate in any destruction that may have occurred."

A spokesperson for the West Virginia House of Delegates told The Associated Press that House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, a Republican, "will evaluate all the potential consequences once the totality of the situation is understood."

"While free speech and peaceful protests are a core value of American society, storming government buildings and participating in a violent intentional disruption of one of our nation's most fundamental political institutions is a crime that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Hanshaw said in a statement.

House Minority Leader Doug Skaff Jr., a Democrat, said Evans' behavior was unacceptable, and he called on Hanshaw to suspend Evans' access to the statehouse and launch an investigation.

A lawyer for Evans said the legislator will not resign because he "did nothing wrong" at the protest.

"He was exercising his First Amendment rights to peacefully protest and film a historic and dynamic event," attorney John H. Bryan said in a statement. "He engaged in no violence, no rioting, no destruction of property, and no illegal behavior."

A ceremonial event was being held at the Capitol to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's win when the pro-Trump mob stormed the building. It was abruptly paused, and members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence had to seek shelter.

Four people died during the chaos, including a woman who was fatally shot by police.