Apple Valley man enters plea to federal charge for involvement in U.S. Capitol breach

Stock image | Photo by Matthew Kilboy/iStock/ Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Washington County man pleaded guilty to one federal charge on Thursday related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol in January 2021 – and is one of more than 150 individuals sentenced in federal court so far.

2021 file photo showing Landon Copeland circled in red during struggle with police during Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C | Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice, St. George News

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court, Landon Kenneth Copeland, 34, of Apple Valley, pleaded guilty to one federal charge of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, a class D felony that carries a sentence of up to eight years in prison.

The plea agreement signed Thursday includes an estimated sentencing range of 41-51 months in federal prison, as well as a fine ranging $15,000-$150,000.

Copeland also would be ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution to cover a portion of what the government states was nearly $1.5 million in damage caused by the Capitol breach. He also would pay restitution to the victims, the amount of which would be determined by the court. To date, one police officer was listed by their initials as one of the recipients.

The agreement also would prohibit Copeland from appealing his conviction, or from appealing the sentence, terms of imprisonment, restitution and fine amounts. It also states that if any portion of the agreement is breached, then the government can file additional charges against the defendant. The agreement also states the defendant would be detained pending sentencing.

Copeland has been in custody since his arrest on May 11, 2021.

The government agreed to dismiss the “weapon” enhancement to the charge under the terms of the plea agreement, which was a two-level reduction to the offense. Prosecutors also agreed to dismiss the 10 remaining federal charges –  obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, knowingly entering or remaining on restricted grounds and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

The complaint filed in federal court alleges that on Jan. 6, 2021, Copeland entered the Capitol grounds where he assaulted law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon – namely a metal fence – and obstructed their efforts to carry out their duties.

The security footage captured during the breach and later recovered by the U.S. Capitol Police Department reportedly showed the suspect shouting at the officers as he pushed another crowd member into the police line before they were pushed back.

From there, the government alleges that Copeland became involved in a “tug-of-war style” struggle with police over a metal bike rack that served as a fence barricade, and when officers deployed pepper spray, the footage showed the defendant throwing the bike rack toward multiple officers, which obstructed their efforts to maintain order and carry out their duties, the federal court documents stated.

The agreement also mentioned the defendant’s criminal history that includes a DUI and a weapons offense in 2014 – each a misdemeanor.

2021 file photo of Landon Copeland at Jan. 6, 2021, riot at U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C | Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice, St. George News

As part of the deal, Copeland agreed to sign a “Statement of Offense” outlining the events that occurred on January 6 in Washington D.C.

The defendant left his home near Apple Valley to make the 2,300-mile trip to Washington D.C. to attend a rally, and while there, he went to the Capitol building when he saw a crowd gathered there.

Shortly thereafter, the defendant joined “in the group of rioters,” grabbed a riot shield from one of the police officers and then pushed one of the rioters into an officer who fell to the ground and injured his knee, hip and back, Copeland admitted to in the statement.

When officers deployed pepper spray, the defendant joined another suspect in pulling a metal barricade away from the officers and reportedly pushed the barricade into the crowd of officers and then threw it at them.

2018 file photo of the U.S. Capitol is seen at day’s end when the Senate adjourned without averting a partial government shutdown, District of Columbia, Dec. 21, 2018 | Associated Press photo by J. Scott Applewhite, St. George News

More than 150 defendants have pleaded guilty to various charges in connection with the incident at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but relatively few defendants have received prison time for their role in the insurrection, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Of those already sentenced on a federal assault charge, the average prison sentence has been 41 months, and the longest sentence, 63 months, was ordered in the case of a Florida man who threw wooden boards and a fire extinguisher at police officers guarding the Lower West Terrace tunnel of the Capitol.

On May 3, another defendant charged in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, Willard Jake Peart, 47, of Toquerville, was sentenced in federal court on one count of disorderly conduct for parading, demonstrating or picketing on Capitol building grounds. Peart was ordered to serve 60 days of home detention and was placed on 36 months probation.

Following the filing of the agreement Copeland, who has been in jail for more than a year, will remain in federal custody in Washington County until he is sentenced during a hearing that has yet to be scheduled in the case.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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