Cleveland, Tennessee, man pleads not guilty in Capitol riot case

Joseph Padilla
Joseph Padilla
photo Joseph Lino "Jose" Padilla

Joseph Padilla of Cleveland, Tennessee, pleaded not guilty in federal court Tuesday to 12 charges related to his actions during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C.

Padilla, 40, is accused of assaulting a police officer and throwing a flagpole during the storming of the Capitol, an unsuccessful mob effort to block certification of the election of President Joe Biden.

Padilla originally faced six charges and was arrested by the Bradley County Sheriff's Office on Feb. 23 after people recognized him in videos and tipped off the FBI. Just over two weeks later, a federal grand jury indicted him on 12 charges.

On Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Prosecutors have argued Padilla should not be granted pre-trial release because he "poses a clear danger to our republic." They point to his actions - documented in videos - and his own social media statements made on Jan. 6 and the days that followed to support their argument.

As of Wednesday, he was to remain incarcerated, with a status conference scheduled for April 5.

Padilla, who was honorably discharged from the Tennessee National Guard in 2012, was seen on a Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia officer's body camera wearing a scuba mask over his eyes and pushing a police barricade line, according to the FBI's charging documents. He was shouting, "Push! Push! F -- push!"

Shortly thereafter, another video - posted by an obscure social media entity that has since been banned from YouTube for violating its community guidelines - shows Padilla and other rioters using a large, metal sign "as a battering ram against the MPD officers attempting to hold the line," according to the documents.

Later that day, a video posted to Instagram by photographer "jrobertson" showed Padilla standing just to the side of the stairs leading up to the archway of the Capitol's lower west terrace doors when he apparently threw a flagpole - javelin style - at police as other rioters continued attacking the officers. The flagpole landed just in front of the police line.

Federal authorities have arrested more than 345 people from 40 states and the District of Columbia in connection with the attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump who were unwilling to accept his reelection 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, or follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.

Padilla's charges include:

- Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers. - Civil disorder (three counts). - Assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon (two counts). - Obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting. - Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon. - Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon. - Engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon. - Disorderly conduct in the Capitol grounds or buildings. - Act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings.

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