West Virginia Lawmaker Who Filmed Himself Among Those Who Breached Capitol Has Been Federally Charged
Thousands sign a petition for the expulsion of Republican West Virginia House of Delegates Member Derrick Evans on change.org, CBS reported.
Derrick Evans, the newly elected West Virginia state lawmaker who filmed himself along with a pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, has been federally charged for his role in entering the U.S. Capitol, according to the U.S, Attorney’s office, WDTV reported.
“I just received word that we have now a signed complaint against a delegate who serves in the West Virginia Legislature,” said Ken Kohl of the U.S. Attorney’s office on Friday.
Evans is charged with entering a restricted area, Kohl said. A report on Evans is expected to be released by U.S. Attorneys later this afternoon, the news station reported.
The assault that took place on the nation’s Capitol that some lawmakers and national security experts have called “an act of domestic terrorism” according to The Washington Post, left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer. Thousands are calling for Evans' resignation.
“Delegate Derrick Evans will not be resigning his public ofﬁce,” Evans’ attorney John H. Bryan said in a statement on Thursday before news of his arrest broke. The lawyer said Evans will not voluntarily give up the elected position, WV Metro News reported.
"He committed no criminal act that day," Bryan said in the statement.
In the three-page statement Bryan described Evans as an activist and “journalist” who was documenting the day’s events while being swept along in a crowd, WV Metro News reported. In his statement, Bryan said that Evans was exercising his First Amendment rights to peacefully protest and film a historic and dynamic event.
“Given the sheer size of the group walking in, Evans had no choice but to enter,” said Bryan. “Evans continued to film once inside. His footage showed that members of the public were already inside the Capitol by the time he entered. Evans’ footage shows no riotous behavior taking place at that time. Protesters can be seen calmly walking around."
In the statement, Bryan added that Evans traveled to Washington D.C. for the peaceful protest, which had long been planned for Wednesday.
“He did not organize, nor did he lead, any group to the event. He was part of no organization," he said. "To the contrary, Mr. Evan’s personally purchased a charter bus ticket in order to travel to the protest. The bus was occupied by other individuals from the West Virginia Tri-State Area, who were also attending a planned peaceful protest at the Capitol.”
Bryan added: “He engaged in no violence, no rioting, no destruction of property, and no illegal behavior.”
West Virginia Democratic leadership called for Evans' prosecution. An online petition on change.org asking for Evans’ removal has already garnered 40,000 signatures, CBS reported.
Evans, who was wearing a helmet as he marched around the iconic building that has been the meeting chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives for more than two centuries, was videotaped shouting, “Trump! Trump!as fellow rioters chimed in, swinging their Trump flags in defiance.
The breach of the Capitol by some Trump supporters took place nearly one hour after a joint session of Congress gathered to certify the Electoral College votes to confirm that Democratic Joe Biden won the Presidential election without bias, The Hill reported.
The terrifying ordeal that went on for more than an hour at the nation’s Capitol with some lawmakers taking cover and other officials trying to evacuate under police protection, The Hill reported.
"Bring the tear gas. We don't care," Evans is heard yelling. "We're taking this country back whether you like it or not. Today's a test run. We're taking this country back, NBC News reported.
Amid the chaos, he was also heard saying, ”Where's the Proud Boys?” The far-right, all-male, self-described group of "Western chauvinists,” cited the news organization.
As the mob pushes past officers once inside the Capitol, Evan says he hasn’t touched anything, is just there to watch and is seen telling people not to vandalize before yelling, “Patriots inside, baby,” according to NBC News.
A fellow West Virginia lawmaker said Evans should resign or be prepared for expulsion, WV Metro News reported.
Kayla Young, a newly elected Democractic member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, wrote on Twitter: “Delegate Derrick Evans refuses to resign from the WV Legislature despite streaming himself acting as an insurrectionist to our federal government. He swore to uphold the Constitution & broke that oath. We, the House Democratic Caucus is calling for him to be dq’d from serving.”
Evans is a Republican from Wayne County. He was sworn in on Dec. 14. He allegedly deleted the video in question from his social media, though not before a number of social media users made copies of the video then share it, NPR reported.
West Virginia House Speaker Roger Hanshaw told CBS affiliate WOWK-TV Evans will need to "answer to his constituents and colleagues regarding his involvement in what has occurred today.”
"While free speech and peaceful protests are a core value of American society, storming government buildings and participating in a violent intentional disruption of one of our nation's most fundamental political institutions is a crime that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Hanshaw said.
Jared Hunt, the communications director for the West Virginia House of Delegates, told Inside Edition Digital that the West Virginia Constitution and House Rules provide members with two main mechanisms for punishing or disciplining members: censure or expulsion from the House of Delegates for the remainder of one’s term.
"Expelling a member would require a two-thirds vote of all elected delegates to approve expulsion of a member. Should members vote to expel a delegate, that would create a vacancy in that office and the local district executive committee and Governor would nominate and appoint a replacement for the unexpired term," Hunt said. "A censure vote would require a simple majority vote of the House, and involve the adoption of a resolution stating the House of Delegates formally disapproves of a delegate’s conduct.”
Hunt said that he was not aware if Hanshaw and Evans had spoken.
Hunt said the House of Delegates will next meet on Jan. 13. When asked his opinion of which way members of the House will lean, Hunt responded, "It will be up to the will of the full house. The members are not in town. Their first chance to consider anything would be on Wednesday.”
Evans defended his actions and said in a statement on social media Wednesday night that he was returning to West Virginia and "was simply [at the Capitol] as an independent member of the media to film history,” NPR reported.
"As many of you know, for the last few years, I have traveled across the country to film many different events," he wrote on his Facebook reported NBC that is no longer active. ”Today, I had the opportunity to film another event in D.C. I want to assure you all that I did not have any negative interactions with law enforcement nor did I participate in any destruction that may have occurred."
West Virginia Democratic House Minority Leader Doug Skaff called on Hanshaw to suspend Evans' access to the statehouse and launch an investigation, CBS reported.
"Delegate Derrick Evans not only participated in this violent, intentional disruption of government; he helped lead a group that he organized to travel to Washington, D.C., to cause this chaos," Skaff said in a statement.
Inside Edition Digital reached out to Evans for comment. He did not respond to our request.
Lawmakers from other states also traveled to the nation's capital to protest the results of the Electoral College on Wednesday. It's unclear if any of those elected officials forced their way into the U.S. Capitol, CBS reported.
Democratic colleagues are also calling on Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano to resign. Mastriano reportedly helped organize a bus ride to the D.C. protest, but said he left the Capitol area after the violence, which he called “unacceptable,” erupted CBS News reported.
Evans swept aside a Democratic rival to win his seat representing Wayne County. High GOP turnout credited to Mr. Trump elevated down-ballot Republicans in the state and gave the party a statehouse supermajority, CBS News reported.
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