Illinois man charged with assaulting a cameraman during Capitol riots

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]

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