A Marine Corps veteran who vigorously fought charges against him in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot has died of undisclosed reasons in a Florida hospital.
John Steven Anderson, 61, died Tuesday in Jacksonville while awaiting trial on seven counts, including civil disobedience and “assaulting, resisting or impeding” police. Anderson was not among the group of protesters who have been detained for more than six months and allege beatings and brutality in jail.
“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,” his attorney Marina 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.”
John Anderson is helped through a tunnel on Jan. 6 after being sprayed with a chemical Marina Medvin
A conservative who had attended several Trump rallies, Anderson wanted to support the president and figured the Jan. 6 event would be no different than the others, Medvin said. He marched toward the Capitol along with the crowd and held up his cellphone to record what he thought was a historic event.
Several agitators started attacking Capitol police and told the crowd to surge forward. Anderson was sprayed in the face with a chemical by an assailant who had directed the spray toward nearby officers, according to Medvin.
Photos released by the Department of Justice showed Anderson in distress when he was sprayed, moments before officers assisted him along a corridor because he collapsed after he was sprayed, Medvin said.
“I was there for a protest. I was recording everything. I didn’t attack any officers. I didn’t hurt anyone,” Anderson said, as recited by Medvin. “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 had a heart condition, allergies, and asthma. It’s not clear if this played a role in his death, as another person sprayed with an irritant also died. Officer Brian Sicknick’s death was ultimately deemed to be from natural causes even though he was just 42 years old.
Sixteen media organizations sided with Medvin in federal court, demanding the judge to order the release of a 30-second video that shows Anderson’s interaction with police. Prosecutors had withheld the clip from public dissemination, arguing it was “highly sensitive.” The clip was ordered to be released on July 29.
Photos from the clip show Anderson being pushed along with the crowd but not assaulting anyone. At one point, he held a police shield, which he said protesters passed along the tunnel. The brief time he held the shield prompted some of the charges, Medvin said.
Shortly before his death, prosecutors asked Anderson to plead guilty to a single felony with a maximum of five years in prison. Medvin said she asked for his case to be dismissed.
“The last project John and I were working on before his death was turning down this officer, which we felt was a slap in the face,” Medvin said. “’I will not say that I did something I didn’t do,’ was John’s position. We believed the government was continuing to ignore the complete picture of what happened.”
Anderson was also a former member of the Florida Army National Guard and owned several automotive businesses. He had been married for just eight months at the time of his death.
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Original Author: Tori Richards
Original Location: Marine Corps veteran sprayed in face during Capitol riot dies