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The legal team of a Trump supporter who tased DC Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone during the 6 January insurrection has claimed that he was “acting upon” former President Donald Trump’s “authorisation”.
Daniel Rodriguez, who said he has volunteered for the Trump campaign, is one of the multiple people alleged to have committed crimes in connection with the attack on Mr Fanone.
Mr Rodriguez’s legal representatives have notified the court that they “may” use a “public authority” defence, which could possibly mean that they will argue that he was acting “on behalf of” a “law enforcement agency or federal intelligence agency” when he took part in the Capitol riot and attacked the officer, Law360 reported.
Federal prosecutorial rules state that the notice must include the agency concerned, the member of the agency that the defendant claims to have acted for, and during what time the defendant acted with public authority.
The public defenders for Mr Rodqriguez said the agency was the executive branch, the agency member was former President Donald Trump and the time in question was 6 January 2021.
“[I]t offends due process to convict an individual who was acting upon authorisation of a government official,” Mr Rodriguez’s legal team argued.
The defence admitted that it remains unclear how a public authority defence may play out in a Washington DC courtroom, but added that they wanted to claim the ability to use the defence “out of an abundance of caution”.
The transcript of the FBI interview shows Mr Rodriguez admit to tasing Mr Fanone in the neck, but his lawyers want the admission to be thrown out of the proceedings.
“I just came up to the steps again, and I saw them pulling him out, and I tased him,” he said, according to the transcript.
Time reported that Mr Fanone was “dragged down the Capitol’s marble stairs, beaten with pipes and poles, tear-gassed and stun-gunned”.
He asked the rioters to spare his life when they “threatened to shoot him with his own gun,” prompting Mr Fanone to tell “the rioters he had kids”.
The Washington Post reported that the tasing allegedly led to Mr Fanon suffering a mild heart attack. He was left unconscious but managed to get out of the ordeal alive and later testified before the January 6 select House committee.
Mr Rodriguez is charged with one count of impeding, obstructing, or interfering with a law enforcement officer during the commission of a civil disorder that obstructs an official proceeding, one count of assaulting a federal officer with a dangerous weapon, one count of theft of government property, one count of destruction of government property, and three separate counts of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building without lawful authority.
The 195-page transcript was entered into the record by Mr Rodriguez legal team because they argue that it shows that the FBI didn’t properly read him his Miranda rights.
According to the transcript, Mr Rodrioguez told the FBI: “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know that we were doing the wrong thing. I thought we were doing the f***ing right thing. I thought we were going to be — I’m so stupid. I thought I was going to be awesome. I thought I was a good guy. I wanted to — you know, my whole life, I’ve been, oh, f**k the police. I really have.”