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The Capitol siege: The cases behind the biggest criminal investigation in U.S. history

An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of then-President Donald Trump gather in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6.
Leah Millis
/
Reuters
An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of then-President Donald Trump gather in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6.

Updated September 30, 2022 at 4:03 PM ET

Editor's note: This story was first published on Feb. 9, 2021. It is regularly updated, and includes explicit language.

On Jan. 6, 2021, hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump broke through police lines and stormed the U.S. Capitol, forcing a panicked evacuation of top political leaders and threatening the country's peaceful transfer of power. The violent attack was an act of domestic terrorism, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Approximately 140 members of law enforcement suffered injuries in the attack, many at the hands of rioters wielding pepper spray, metal pipes and American flags fashioned into clubs. Those injuries included brain damage and crushed spinal discs. Five people ultimately died during or soon after the riot, though not all their deaths have been directly attributed to the events that day. One woman, Ashli Babbitt, was shot and killed by Capitol police. More than $2.5 million of damage was done to the Capitol.

In response to the attack, the Department of Justice launched what has become the largest criminal investigation in American history, involving scores of federal investigators and prosecutors across the country.

Jump to our database of individuals charged

So far, more than 875 people have been charged with crimes, and that number continues to steadily grow. The FBI has estimated that 2,000 people may have been involved in the attack that day. Law enforcement has arrested alleged rioters in nearly all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia. The defendants appear to be largely white, though not entirely. Federal prosecutors say far-right militia members decked out in tactical gear rioted next to a county commissioner, a New York City sanitation worker, and a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

In an effort to better understand the violent attack on the Capitol, its alleged perpetrators and the threat it posed to American democracy, NPR is tracking every criminal case stemming from that day's events. This database makes publicly available — and searchable — data on hundreds of cases, including metrics such as a defendant's age, location, alleged affiliation with extremist organizations, past or present law enforcement or military experience, and the latest status of their case.

In public comments and court documents, the Justice Department has roughly put the cases into three categories: those who conspired over days, weeks and even months to attack the Capitol; those who allegedly violently attacked police, often with the use of weapons; and the remainder who breached the building as part of the mob, but did not commit other crimes. Sixty defendants have been charged with conspiracy. At least 228 defendants have been charged with violence.

So far, 407 people have pleaded guilty to one or more charges stemming from the riot. Judges have handed down sentences to 277 people. 51% of those people who have been sentenced received prison time. The average prison sentence across all defendants who pleaded guilty is 180 days. Ten defendants have had jury trials, each one convicted on all counts. Ten defendants have had bench trials - five mixed verdict, one full acquittal, and four guilty on all counts. Four cases in federal court were dismissed, and eight cases in D.C. Superior Court were dismissed.

Among the other findings of this database:

NPR found at least 14% of those charged appear to have ties to the military or to law enforcement. The presence of current and former law enforcement officers, as well as military service members and veterans, has especially alarmed government officials.

At least 153 defendants have alleged ties to known extremist or fringe organizations, such as the pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon; the Proud Boys, a far-right group known for street violence; the Oath Keepers, an anti-government group; and the Three Percenters, a part of the anti-government militia movement. A large majority of those charged, however, have no known connections to established extremist groups. That has led researchers to raise concerns about how extremist ideologies have moved increasingly into the mainstream.

Explore the database below.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Corrected: February 19, 2021 at 11:00 PM CST
In an earlier version of this database, the summary for Vitali GossJankowski was mistakenly entered twice and appeared incorrectly for Cindy Sue Fitchett.
Tom Dreisbach is a correspondent on NPR's Investigations team focusing on breaking news stories.
Dina Temple-Raston is a correspondent on NPR's Investigations team focusing on breaking news stories and national security, technology and social justice.
Arezou Rezvani is a senior editor for NPR's Morning Edition and founding editor of Up First, NPR's daily news podcast.
Monika Evstatieva is a Senior Producer on Investigations.
Meg Anderson is an editor on NPR's Investigations team, where she shapes the team's groundbreaking work for radio, digital and social platforms. She served as a producer on the Peabody Award-winning series Lost Mothers, which investigated the high rate of maternal mortality in the United States. She also does her own original reporting for the team, including the series Heat and Health in American Cities, which won multiple awards, and the story of a COVID-19 outbreak in a Black community and the systemic factors at play. She also completed a fellowship as a local reporter for WAMU, the public radio station for Washington, D.C. Before joining the Investigations team, she worked on NPR's politics desk, education desk and on Morning Edition. Her roots are in the Midwest, where she graduated with a Master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
Barbara Van Woerkom is a researcher and producer with the Investigations team. She is a master at digging up documents, finding obscure people and answering all manner of research questions. Van Woerkom has been a part of several award-winning series, including "Guilty and Charged," which focused on excessive fees in the criminal justice system that target the poor; "Lost Mothers," an examination of the maternal mortality crisis in America; and "Abused and Betrayed," which brought to light the high rate of sexual assault on people with intellectual disabilities. She also won a Peabody Award for a series on soldiers who were deliberately exposed to mustard gas by the U.S. military during World War II, locating hundreds more affected veterans than the Department of Veterans Affairs was able to find.

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