ATLANTA — A Georgia man accused of participating in "some of the most violent acts" of Jan. 6, 2021, has pleaded guilty to his role in the insurrectionist storming of the U.S. Capitol.
According to the Department of Justice, Jack Whitton of Locust Grove kicked at one Metropolitan Police Department officer while he was on the ground, grabbed another officer by the helmet and neck, pulled him down, and "started to drag the officer down a set of steps."
He was also accused of striking an MPD officer's riot shield and shouting at him, "you're gonna die tonight."
Whitton faces a maximum of 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon.
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According to a plea agreement, government sentencing guidelines call for anywhere between a little more than five years (63 months) and eight years (97 months) in prison. He will also face a fine estimated at between $25,000 and $250,000.
The 30-year-old was among a group who were charged together for their roles in the Capitol riots, including assault on officers with "a baton, flag pole and crutch," according to government charging documents. The DOJ said Tuesday that six others in that indictment have pleaded not guilty, and one other pleaded guilty last week.
In an opinion issued by U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan denying Whitton bail last year, the Georgia man was painted as a ringleader who "assumed a de facto leadership role in the assaults on MPD officers on the lower western terrace."
"As the government correctly points out, Mr. Whitton was 'unlike others, who joined in the assaults after they began.' Instead, he was the instigator," the judge wrote.
The opinion further describes Whitton's alleged involvement:
"He led the assault on Officer B.M., as he was the first to pull the officer away from his post and into the crowd. In the seconds that followed, the situation on the lower western terrace went from dangerous to potentially life-threatening for the MPD Officers: Officer B.M. sustained beatings from the angry mob surrounding him on the Capitol steps; Officer A.W. was then also dragged into the crowd, following the lead Mr. Whitton had set in dragging Officer B.M. down the steps; and Officer C.M. was also attacked as he tried to assist the other officers.
"Mr. Whitton bragged in a text message to an acquaintance that he 'fed [Officer B.M.] to the people.' By leading his co-defendants in dragging Officer B.M. into the violent and angry mob, he effectively 'urg[ed] rioters . . . to confront law enforcement,' which undoubtedly 'inspired further criminal conduct on the part of others.' This action 'enhances the defendant’s responsibility for the destabilizing events of January 6 and thus the seriousness of his conduct.'"
Whitton's conduct was described as "among some of the most violent acts that took place that day according to the government."