U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Illinois man charged with assaulting a cameraman during Capitol riots

Incident Details

October 4, 2023 - Update

Illinois man sentenced for assault on Reuters journalist

An Illinois man was sentenced on Oct. 4, 2023, on charges related to his actions at the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to court documents reviewed by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

Shane Jason Woods pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and was sentenced to four years in prison and three years of supervised release. Under the terms of a plea agreement, he must pay $2,000 in restitution for damage to the Capitol and a $110 fine.

In September 2022, Woods admitted to assaulting a Reuters journalist and a police officer on Jan. 6. He was the first person to be arrested and charged with assaulting a member of the news media during the Capitol riots. He was also charged with destroying equipment belonging to media outlets, including The Associated Press and German public-service broadcaster ZDF.

According to the plea agreement, the six additional charges against Woods, including for civil disorder, assault, and violence and disorderly conduct on restricted grounds, would be dismissed as part of the sentencing.

September 9, 2022 - Update

Illinois man pleads guilty to assaulting a Reuters journalist during Capitol riots

An Illinois man pleaded guilty on Sept. 9, 2022, to assaulting a member of the media during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

In court documents, the Department of Justice said Shane Jason Woods, who was captured on video tackling a previously unidentified cameraman to the ground, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assaulting the journalist. Woods also pleaded guilty to one felony charge of assaulting a law enforcement officer on federal grounds.

Reuters identified the cameraman as a Reuters journalist. According to Reuters, Woods attended his plea hearing remotely and admitted to assaulting the police officer and the Reuters journalist.

In June 2021, Woods became the first individual arrested and charged with assaulting a member of the news media during the Capitol riots. Under sentencing guidelines, Woods faces between 33 to 41 months in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 13, 2023.

Find all assaults, detainments and equipment damages against journalists covering Jan. 6, 2021, events in the database here, and follow our blog tracking all persons charged with crimes against the media on that day — including their pleas and movement through the justice system.

January 6, 2021

A June 21, 2021, affidavit charged an individual with tackling to the ground an unnamed news cameraman who was covering the insurrection in and around the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. According to the affidavit, the individual, identified by the FBI as Shane Jason Woods, was charged with the assault as well as with participating in the destruction of multiple news outlets’ equipment.

At a rally in front of the White House earlier that day, then-President Donald Trump called on his supporters to protest at the Capitol as Congress confirmed President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Following Trump’s speech, which included unfounded claims of election fraud and calls to “fight” the outcome, hundreds then marched to the Capitol, swarmed the building and broke inside, Reuters reported.

Multiple broadcast journalists were reporting from a media staging area in the northeast area of the Capitol when a crowd of rioters stormed the area and broke through the barricades, surrounding the journalists and their equipment.

In videos of the incident, the rioters can be heard yelling “Fuck the mainstream media” as well as “CNN sucks” and “Fuck CNN!” The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has not found any information to suggest that a CNN news crew was assaulted in the attack.

According to the affidavit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Woods was allegedly among those “yelling and spitting at members of the news media along a pushed-over fence next to the media staging area.”

“Moments later, the individual who appears to be WOODS climbed over the toppled fence and participated in the assault on the media equipment,” the affidavit says.

The unidentified cameraman — dressed in blue jeans and a blue jacket — was filming the property destruction, according to the affidavit. In footage of the incident, Woods can be seen walking closely around the cameraman.

“Soon after, WOODS is observed running into and tackling this same cameraman as the cameraman is facing away from Woods,” the affidavit says. “In the video, WOODS is seen departing quickly after tackling the cameraman, causing the man to fall to the ground and drop his camera.”

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has been unable to identify the cameraman, who is not named in the affidavit, or determine whether his camera was damaged when it fell.

According to the affidavit, the assault on the cameraman was similar to an assault Woods is also charged with perpetrating on a U.S. Capitol Police officer earlier that day.

The affidavit charges Woods with numerous federal offenses, including assault of a law enforcement officer, assault in special maritime and territorial jurisdiction (a category that includes the Capitol and its grounds), obstructing law enforcement, trespassing and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds. If convicted on all charges, Woods faces imprisonment for up to 17 years, fines or both.

According to a June 24 Justice Department press release, Woods is the first individual to be arrested for an assault on members of the news media during the Capitol riots.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country. Find election-related coverage here.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].