John Steven Anderson, a Jan. 6 protester facing charges for his actions that day, has died of undisclosed reasons in a Florida hospital.
The 61-year-old Marine Corps veteran, who was reportedly sprayed in the face with a chemical by someone in the crowd trying to hit nearby police officers, was awaiting trial on seven counts, including civil disobedience and “assaulting, resisting or impeding” law enforcement, according to the Washington Examiner.
Anderson strongly denied the charges against him and his attorney, Marina Medvin, said her client died “an innocent man.”
“May his family find comfort and finality in knowing that John was genuinely innocent of the serious charges of which he was accused before his death,” Medvin said in a press release. “May America know that John Anderson died a wrongfully accused man who maintained his innocence to his last day.”
Anderson was fortunate not to be among the group of protesters who have been detained for more than six months, the Examiner noted. Seen in the eyes of many as political prisoners, given that no one has been charged with insurrection, some of these protesters have claimed that they’ve faced beatings and brutality in jail, and have had to endure long stretches of solitary confinement.
A Trump supporter, Anderson marched toward the Capitol along with the crowd to show his support for the former president, according to the newspaper. He was recording what he saw as a historic event and was hit by the chemical spray when some in the crowd started attacking police, his attorney said. Medvin said the Justice Department released photos of Anderson in distress and being assisted by officers along a corridor after he collapsed.
“I was there for a protest. I was recording everything. I didn’t attack any officers. I didn’t hurt anyone,” Anderson said, according to his attorney. “Someone sprayed me, I couldn’t breathe, and I begged the officers for help. And I thank God every day that they helped me, they saved my life.”
Anderson was reportedly dealing with a heart condition, allergies, and asthma, but it’s not clear if this played a role in his death — Medvin took to Twitter after his death to clarify that his passing was not related to the chemical spray.
“May America know that John Anderson died a wrongfully accused man who maintained his innocence to his last day,” she tweeted, linking to the Examiner’s article, adding in a follow-up, “To correct an assertion in this article — John Anderson passed away 9 months after J6. The death is not connected to J6 pepper spray.”
To correct an assertion in this article — John Anderson passed away 9 months after J6. The death is not connected to J6 pepper spray.
— Marina Medvin 🇺🇸 (@MarinaMedvin) September 28, 2021
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, 42, was also sprayed with a chemical. He would die the following day after having two strokes, with the medical examiner later announcing that the officer’s death was from natural causes.
Medvin successfully fought for the release of video footage that captured Anderson’s interaction with police after prosecutors withheld the clip from public dissemination, arguing it was “highly sensitive,” according to the Examiner. The video appears to support his assertion that he did not assault anyone, though he was seen at one point holding a police shield.
Clips of the video can be seen here:
During the assault on police in the Capitol tunnel, John Steven Anderson was exposed to chemical irritants and begun suffering respiratory distress. Police assisted him in getting through the line of law enforcement to medical aid. No indication at this time his death is related. pic.twitter.com/FuerXlgw8f
— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) September 24, 2021
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