Seattle man charged with assault, felony harassment, accused of targeting journalists during protests at State Capitol

Seattle man charged with assault, felony harassment, accused of targeting journalists during protests at State Capitol

A 26-year-old man from Seattle was arrested Tuesday. He was accused of dousing bear spray on two photojournalists and threatening a newspaper reporter during the January 6 protests at the Washington State Capitol in which supporters of former President Donald Trump broke a fence in front of the governor’s mansion in Olympia, according to court documents filed in Thurston County Superior Court.

Damon Huseman, who lives on Capitol Hill in Seattle, was charged on Jan. 11 with two second degree attacks for spraying bear spray on the faces of a freelance photographer and video journalist with TVW, the state’s public affairs network, and the Men had incapacitated for hours, preventing them from performing their duties, according to billing records.

Huseman, who was armed with an assault rifle, a pistol and a knife at the time, was also charged with harassment for attacking a reporter to grab her cell phone and threatening her and other media representatives, “We’ll see you next year (expletively) shoot “, it says in the indictments.

Huseman, who was detained in Thurston County Jail, appeared on Zoom Wednesday afternoon before Thurston County Supreme Court Judge Sharonda Amamilo, who ordered him to be detained on bail for $ 50,000. She also ordered Huseman not to have any contact with the three journalists he is accused of or the Capitol campus.

Defense attorney Danielle Walker, who petitioned Huseman for personal recognition, did not bring guilty claims against any of the three charges on his behalf. She told the judge that Huseman had lived in the area for eight years, had previously been employed and had no criminal history. Walker also said Huseman had the right to be armed, noting that he was not accused of pointing or firing his guns at anyone.

In response to a Civilian Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) filed by a patrol officer, Walker said Huseman surrendered all of his firearms without argument.

“I think the shortage of firearms might allay fears that he might commit a violent crime … This was a very, very heightened, emotional situation where everyone was screaming and the President of the United States.” [inciting] People to riot, ”said Walker. “However, he did nothing. He didn’t shoot anyone. He turned all his guns over. This is a unique situation. “

However, the judge disagreed with Walker’s assessment, saying Huseman posed a threat to the community.

“In this case, Mr. Huseman allegedly targeted media in a very threatening manner and when they were exercising their legitimate rights, within their employment and in a public place,” said Amamilo. “It is alleged that when making the threat, Mr. Huseman made demands on them that were not within his legal right to do so. And when they failed to comply with Mr Huseman’s requests, it was alleged that Mr Huseman then decided that they should be punished and / or, in this case, physically compelled to comply with his unlawful requests. “

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) received an arrest warrant for Huseman. After being seen on a Seattle street Tuesday afternoon, he was taken into custody without incident with assistance from the Seattle Police Department, said Sgt. Darren Wright, a state Patrol spokesman.

Huseman was also seen on video at the grounds of the governor’s mansion during the January 6 protest and may face additional criminal charges, according to Wright.

Washington’s Extreme Risk Protection Act was passed by an overwhelming majority in 2016 and went into effect in 2018. It allowed police and family members to ask a judge to keep firearms out of the hands of anyone believed to pose a danger to themselves or others. If approved, a judge can impose a year-long gun ban. If firearms are not turned over voluntarily, the police can obtain an arrest warrant for their confiscation.

In the criminal case against Huseman, the indictments alleged that all three victims presented similar descriptions of their attacker and identified Huseman as a suspect based on their own photos and those posted on social media websites.

According to the fee collection and the ERPO petition:

Around noon on January 6, a freelance photojournalist arrived at the Capitol and began taking pictures of the protesters on 11th Avenue and Capitol Boulevard when he was approached by a man with an assault rifle who told the photographer to leave. When the photographer refused, the man sprayed bear spray on his face and camera lens, confusing and blinding the photographer, who asked a passer-by for help. The passerby washed his eyes with water.

The photographer later drove to his mother’s house and took a shower, but continued to feel the stinging effects of the spray for the rest of the day and was charged with not being able to return to work.

Shortly after the photographer was sprayed, a journalist with TVW left his office with a camera and a TVW jacket. He saw the photographer suffering from the effects of the bear spray and gave him a bottle of water. The photographer warned him to watch his back.

As the TVW journalist approached the protest on the Capitol lawn, an armed man in riot gear quickly came up to him and shouted several times that the journalist should “get the (explosive) out of here,” according to the court files.

The journalist was crossing the street planning how to access the protest when the same man came up behind him. The journalist turned and was sprayed with bear spray on his face, then turned on his camera and took pictures of his attacker, which he later shared with investigators on the patrol.

Concerned for his safety, the journalist returned to his office, where an employee helped him. He couldn’t go back to work that day either.

Later that afternoon, a reporter noticed demonstrators walking towards the entrance to the governor’s villa and was approached by a man armed with a “large weapon”. Wanting to know if she was a member of the media, he kicked her face and lunged at her, trying to grab her cell phone. He told the reporter she had five minutes left and said he had already sprayed other journalists.

In a later interview with a patrol detective, the reporter said she felt that she and other journalists were in danger of being shot and that she had never been threatened to this extent at work before. She told the detective that she requested a bulletproof vest from her news agency later that night.