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A Pennsylvania man accused of assaulting a police officer during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has reportedly died.
Michael John Lopatic, Sr., who was 57 when he was arrested in February 2021, was charged alongside eight co-defendants with crimes ranging from trespassing to theft to assaulting police officers during the melee at the Capitol, when throngs of Donald Trump supporters, angry over Joe Biden‘s win in the 2020 presidential election, descended on the building. The mob was successful in temporarily halting the certification of the vote, forcing lawmakers to either evacuate or shelter in place for hours.
On Tuesday, Ryan J. Reilly of NBC News reported that Lopatic had died.
NEW: Jan. 6 defendant Michael John Lopatic Sr. has died, his attorney tells me. He had a number of health issues, but cause of death is unclear at the moment.
The Lancaster County man was charged with assaulting officers, and admitted that he stole an officer’s body camera. pic.twitter.com/eU30ufnZWo
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) July 5, 2022
“He was a nice guy, he was very sorry about his involvement in all this. It was a huge mistake,” his lawyer told me today after being informed by Lopatic’s family and probation services about his client’s death.
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) July 5, 2022
Law&Crime was not able to confirm the cause of Lopatic’s reported death. Lopatic’s attorney did not respond to a Law&Crime email or telephone call.
According to a criminal complaint, Lopatic climbed over a handrail and charged at a police officer, identified in filings only as C.M., as the officer tried to reach another officer, identified as B.M, who was under attack from protestors.
“After the defendant climbed the barricade, he assaulted C.M. by continuously punching him in the head,” the Statement of Facts in support of Lopatic’s arrest said. “The [body-worn camera] of an officer standing behind C.M. also captured the defendant’s assault of C.M. At one point, the defendant grabbed C.M. by the head and appeared to hit him with an uppercut[.]”
Lopatic was also accused of grabbing the body-worn camera off of B.M., who had been dragged in to the crowd and beaten, allegedly by Lopatic’s co-defendant Jeffrey Sabol. Sabol was pictured holding a police baton over an officer who was lying face-down on concrete stairs; he later said he was just “patting him on the back.”
“[U]pon his arrest, the defendant admitted to agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he stole B.M.’s body camera and that he disposed of it on his way home to Lancaster County,” said an April 2021 court filing in support of keeping Lopatic in custody pending trial.
Another of Lopatic’s co-defendants, Justin Jersey, allegedly kept “trophies” — including an MPD officer’s badge and MPD helmet — from the riot.
As Law&Crime previously reported, prosecutors also alleged that Lopatic had shot two birds and named his targets after Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“I got a double today,” Lopatic posted to Facebook in November 2020 along with a picture of the dead birds. “The dog flushed them up together. Full choke. Two shots, two kills. Both head shots. I got a rooster and a hen. I named them Joe and Kamala.”
Lopatic was held in custody following his arrest in February of 2021. He was released in April on home detention and subject to location monitoring by an ankle bracelet.
This past February, however, Lopatic was granted permission to leave his house and remove his ankle monitor for the time it took for him to get an MRI. According to a letter filed with the court by Lopatic’s wife, Chinh Lopatic, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in or around 2012, and required medication.
Lopatic served in the Marine Corps and reportedly saw combat in Beirut, Lebanon, according to his wife’s letter to the court.
Court filings indicate that Lopatic was set to go to trial before Senior U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, a Bill Clinton appointee, on Dec. 5, 2022, with jury selection starting on Nov. 30.
At least three other Jan. 6 defendants have died during the pendency of their prosecutions. Joseph Cable Barnes, 35, of Texas, died in June of 2021 reportedly after running a red light while on his motorcycle, and John Steven Anderson, 61, of Florida died in September 2021.
Matthew Perna, 37, died by suicide ahead of his sentencing hearing; he had pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding of Congress.
None of the defendants appear to have been in custody at the time of their deaths.
[Images via FBI court filings.]
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