Judge Calls Defense by Rioter Who Wore Panda Head 'Absurd'

Jan. 6 prosecutors add convictions by Florida, New York defendants
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2024 1:35 PM CDT
Judge Calls Defense by Rioter Who Wore Panda Head 'Absurd'
Insurrectionists loyal to Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Prosecutors have recorded two more convictions of Jan. 6 rioters, including one of a man who tried to conceal his identity by wearing a panda costume head in the Capitol. Jesse Rumson of Florida was convicted Friday in Washington of assaulting a police officer and the seven other charges he faced, NBC News reports. Rumson, who has been called "Sedition Panda" since the attack, maintained that any contact with the police officer was unintentional and that he didn't know the entry to the Capitol was restricted. US District Judge Carl Nichols called some of the defense arguments 'absurd.'

Nichols, a Donald Trump appointee who has been among the most lenient judges handling Jan. 6 cases, pointed out that Rumson "repeatedly rushing towards the police" before attacking the officer. The judge found that the defendant grabbed and shoved the officer's face shield. Video footage showed Rumson yelled "Get a ram!" when rioters were smashing a window. The Maryland county officer, Cpl. Scott Ainsworth, is a lifelong Republican who testified that he's had trouble understanding why he was attacked by members of his party. He told the court some Republicans in his life no longer want anything to do with him because he defended the Capitol, per NBC. Rumson's sentencing is scheduled for September.

A rioter from upstate New York has pleaded guilty to charges that he took a police officer's can of pepper spray while clashing with officers at a Capitol entrance. Troy Weeks, 38, pleaded guilty to felony charges of civil disorder and assaulting, resisting, or impeding an officer, as well as several related misdemeanor charges, per the AP. Prosecutors said that he pushed his hand through a broken window to grab the can and that he pushed against police lines multiple times. Court documents say Weeks was recorded on a body camera later asking officers why they weren't "protecting the ballots." His sentencing is scheduled for November. (More Capitol riot stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.