An attorney for a Maine man arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol in January said Kyle Fitzsimons was “persuaded by the rhetoric of then-President Trump and the Republican party” to travel to Washington but poses no threat.
Kyle Fitzsimons, 37, is among more than 400 people facing criminal charges over the violent attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress was attempting to certify President Biden’s victory. The Lebanon resident has been in jail since February and was indicted by a federal grand jury on 10 charges, including that he assaulted federal officers, engaged in violence in a restricted building and obstructed an official proceeding.
In a filing in federal court in Washington on Friday, Fitzsimons’ appointed public defender argued that he should be released from jail while awaiting trial because he “is neither a flight risk, nor a risk of danger to his community.”
Assistant federal defender Natasha Taylor-Smith wrote that Fitzsimons was disappointed by the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. In the following months, he was “inundated with comments from local, state and federal elected officials about how the election process had been usurped” and was eventually “moved by the words of then-President Trump to travel to the District of Columbia for the ‘Save America Rally.’”
He was “caught up in the frenzy of the rally and protest” during which Trump urged supporters to march to the Capitol, actions that would eventually lead to Trump’s second impeachment by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. But unlike others in the massive crowd that day, Taylor-Smith wrote, Fitzsimons was not part of a violent or extremist organization.
“Rather, he is a lone individual who was persuaded by the rhetoric of then-President Trump and the Republican party, and was led to believe that the 2020 election was stolen,” she wrote. “Mr. Fitzsimons believed voter fraud occurred, which ultimately (led) to his arrest in this instant matter. He, however, is not a threat to his community and should not be detained pending trial.”
Federal prosecutors have a very different portrayal of Fitzsimons in their arguments to hold him in jail pending trial. Prosecutors had not yet responded Saturday to Taylor-Smith’s latest request, but among the reasons they cited in earlier filings were threatening calls Fitzsimons allegedly made to the office of a member of Congress later identified as Maine’s Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-District 1.
“He was reported to be very aggressive, shouting and yelling,” prosecutors wrote in a motion filed with the courts in March. “Fitzsimons said that he was going to ‘give it to her hard’ and that ‘we’re coming for her’ (referring to the Congressperson).”
Fitzsimons allegedly called back the next day to say the Electoral College vote is “corrupt and total garbage.”
“He urged the Congressperson to dispute the election results in January,” prosecutors wrote. “He stated that Biden is a corrupt skeleton and that this is going to be civil war.” In another call, Fitzsimons identified himself as “Kyle Fitzsimons, the man who wants to start a war” as he demanded a number for Chinese President Xi Jinping.
A New York native who was working as freelance butcher in southern Maine, Fitzsimons is one of at least three Maine residents facing charges for the Jan. 6 attack that led to the deaths of several people, including on U.S. Capitol Police officer.
Earlier affidavits filed against Fitzsimons included screenshots from surveillance and police body cameras that allegedly show him at the front of the group of rioters. The affidavit claims Fitzsimons was observed “pushing and grabbing against officers, who were holding a police line in an arched entranceway on the lower west terrace of the Capitol Building.”
When he was hit by officers’ batons, Fitzsimons lowered his shoulder and charged the line of police, the affidavit said. He retreated into the crowd after scuffling with officers. A subsequent motion also alleged that Fitzsimons tried to pull one sergeant into the crowd, and that person needed to strike him several times with a baton to free himself. They also said he pulled aside a gas mask worn by a detective before another person used a spray on the detective.
In the filing requesting her client’s pretrial release, Taylor-Smith noted that Fitzsimons has no history of violent behavior, has no passport and that his mother has offered to allow him to stay with her in Florida. She argued that prosecutors cannot prove he is a threat to the community and pointed out that others facing similar charges have been released before trial.
“Viewed within the context of January 6th, the evidence shows that Mr. Fitzsimons was caught up in the frenzy of the rally and protest,” Taylor-Smith wrote. “His lack of prior planning and coordination with others supports this determination. He was swept up in the large crowd and behaved in a manner that was completely foreign to his actions before or after January 6th.”