A self-styled militia member, the first Capitol rioter to face trial warned his family that ‘traitors get shot’
Guy Wesley Reffitt, la première 6 January defendant to be tried by a jury, is one of hundreds of Trump supporters arrested after they were spotted on camera at the Capitol during the 2021 insurrection. As per an affidavit from an FBI special agent, 49-year-old Mr Reffitt was formally identified from video shot at the west front of the Capitol during the riot.
Easily recognisable in his hulking blue jacket, padded vest and helmet equipped with a GoPro camera, he can be seen in the footage – which was broadcast on Fox News – flushing his eyes out with what seems to be a bottle of water.
It took the jury of six men and six women just under four hours to find Mr Reffitt guilty on five counts: civil disorder; obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; and hindering communication through physical force or threat of physical force. He is set to be sentenced on 8 juin, where he faces a maximum of 60 années de prison.
Mr Reffitt is notorious for two things: the fact that he pleaded not guilty to the five counts brought against him, and the fact that he allegedly threatened to kill his own children if they turned him in.
The Department of Justice rested its case shortly before noon on Monday after choosing not to call Mr Reffitt’s youngest to testify on the stand. The defence did not call any witnesses.
The first witness to take the stand last week was Capitole des États-Unis Police Sgt Adam DesCamp. Il a dit 6 January was the first time ever that the agency used its less-than-lethal weapons, WUSA9 a signalé.
Sgt DesCamp said he saw Mr Reffitt tell another officer: “Don’t be a traitor.”
WUSA9 reported that every time a witness identified Mr Reffitt, he removed his mask and looked at them. Sgt DesCamp said police had to deploy a pepper spray canister the size of a “fire extinguisher” against Mr Reffitt.
While Sgt DesCamp testified that Mr Reffitt didn’t assault any officers, he said he made “implied” threats.
“Mr Reffitt did not threaten you, did he?” defence attorney William Welch asked.
“It was implied, ‘You can’t stop us all.’ No direct threats,’” Mr DesCamp said, selon WUSA9.
"Mais, Mr Reffitt didn’t listen when he was told to get back?” Mr Welch asked.
"Correct,” Mr DesCamp said. He added to Assistant US Attorney Risa Berkower that members of the crowd led by Mr Reffitt did assault officers, including himself.
USCP Sgt Matthew Flood told the court that the mob would fill in behind Mr Reffitt every time he stepped forward.
As recorded in the affidavit, c'était Mr Reffitt’s son Jackson who contacted the FBI to alert them not just to his alleged behaviour during the riot, but numerous threats he made to his family after returning from Washington, CC.
According to the FBI, when Mr Reffitt’s wife said he could not make oblique death threats to his own children, he told her “words to the effect of, ‘he was trying to protect the family, and if someone was a traitor then that’s what’s going to happen’.”
Mr Reffitt’s son has since expressed concern that his father may have been further radicalised in jail while awaiting trial, housed as he is in a wing of Washington’s Central Detention Facility that is home to numerous other self-proclaimed “patriots” awaiting criminal proceedings over the riot. (These prisoners and the conditions in which they’re being housed have become a cause celebre for certain hardline Republican members of Congress.)
Responding to a letter his father wrote from prison reiterating that he did not regret his actions on 6 janvier, the younger Mr Reffitt told VICE News: "Franchement, it made me feel worse about my decision, only because I feel like I pushed him in a more extreme direction. I made him more enthusiastic about what he’s done.”
Before the riot, Mr Reffitt was already moving in extreme circles as a member of the militia-style “Texas Three Percenters", a local iteration of the wider Three Percenters movement, which takes its name from the notion that only 3 per cent of the population of the colonial US took arms against the British in the War of Independence.
Mr Reffitt reportedly joined the group as he became angrier and angrier at the Black Lives Matter protests that spread across the US in 2020. The ragtag “militia” is small rather than national in scope. As the government affidavit writes: “While many independent or multi-state militia groups incorporate III% in their unit names, the term is less indicative of membership in a single overarching group than it is representative of a common belief in the notion that a small force with a just cause can overthrow a tyrannical government if armed and prepared.”
néanmoins, selon les procureurs, Mr Reffitt had bold ambitions for 6 janvier, taking a disassembled firearm with him. Several days later, he allegedly told others in his group: “We had thousands of weapons and fired no rounds yet showed numbers. The next time we will not be so cordial.”
Mr Reffitt’s defence claimed that he did not enter the Capitol, and according to the Washington Post, have described him as someone with “a bit of an ego” who likes to brag. What the jury will think when shown a montage of footage and given the testimony of his family members remains to be seen.