Federal prosecutors argue Cleveland, Tennessee, man is 'danger to our republic' for actions during Capitol riot

Joseph Padilla
photo Joseph Padilla

Federal prosecutors are arguing that a Cleveland, Tennessee, man charged with participating in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., should not be released pending his trial because he "poses a clear danger to our republic," according to a motion filed this past week in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Joseph "Jose" Lino Padilla, 40, is accused of assaulting a police officer and throwing a flagpole during the riot.

He was arrested by the Bradley County Sheriff's Office on Feb. 23 after people who recognized him tipped the FBI.

Padilla, who faces six federal charges - including assault on police with a dangerous weapon, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds - was released from the Bradley County Jail into the custody of U.S. marshals on March 3, according to the Bradley County Sheriff's Office. It's not clear where he is currently being detained.

Local attorney Lee Davis, who represented Padilla at the time of his arrest, is no longer representing him, Davis confirmed Friday. Padilla had no legal representation as of Friday, according to court records.

In their memorandum, prosecutors argue "there are no conditions or combination of conditions the court could impose that would reasonably assure the safety of the community or the appearance Mr. Padilla."

When deciding whether to grant pretrial release to a defendant, the court has to decide whether the defendant is a flight risk, a danger to the community or both. And to do that, there are four factors for the court to consider: the nature and circumstances of the alleged offense, the weight of the evidence, the history and character of the accused and the seriousness of possible danger to the community should the person be released.

In Padilla's case, prosecutors pointed to his actions - documented in videos - and social media statements made on Jan. 6 and the days that followed to support their argument that all four factors weigh against Padilla's favor.

"Mr. Padilla has been charged with grave offenses," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob Strain wrote. "He forcibly entered and remained on the Capitol grounds and sought to stop, delay and hinder Congress's certification of the Electoral College vote.

"He was at the front of the crowd, engaged directly with officers, and pushed against the barricade screaming 'Push! Push! F--- push!' He then assisted in pushing forward a large metal sign to be used as a battering ram with the intent to harm officers. And later, he attacked officers by throwing a flagpole which had the risk of seriously injuring anyone struck by it."

Those actions, Strain argued, "highlight his complete disregard for authority and the sanctity of the law."

Strain pointed to social media posts in which Padilla reportedly wrote that his hope on Jan. 6 was to "dissolve the legislature, and replace it with Patriots" and explained his and others' reasoning for breaking the Capitol building's windows as "Patriots trying to find a new way in so we could flank the cops who were holding the doorway."

By writing that, Strain argued, Padilla showed "that he is willing to use force to promote his political ends."

In another post, Padilla allegedly wrote, "After the events of the 6th, I'm done being passive."

"By word and deed, Padilla has supported the violent overthrow of the United States government," Strain wrote, "and his recounting of the events on Jan. 6 represent his continued violent attitude and lack of remorse."

"Such conduct threatens the republic itself," he added. "Indeed, few offenses are more threatening to our way of life."

It will be up to Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui to decide whether to grant Padilla pre-trial release. A hearing has not yet been set.

Federal authorities have arrested more than 290 people from 40 states in connection to the attack on the Capitol, during which supporters of former President Donald Trump attempted to block Congress from certifying his re-election loss.

At least eight Tennesseans have been arrested for their participation in the riot, according to a U.S. Department of Justice database.

Contact Rosana Hughes at 423-757-6327, rhughes@timesfreepress.com or follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.