- Federal court records
- William Arthur Nichols outside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021
Federal prosecutors say William Arthur Nichols Jr., of Manchester, used a clear plastic shield to strike police officers during a scrum on the Capitol steps. He's charged with assaulting an officer using a deadly weapon and seven other offenses related to his alleged actions on January 6.
Nichols worked his way to the front of the rioters and used the shield to "push and hit officers over the course of several hours," prosecutors said.
Nichols is just the second Vermont resident to be charged in the sweeping federal investigation. Nicholas Languerand, formerly of Wolcott, is serving a 44-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to a similar assault charge.
Related Capitol Offense: Nicholas Languerand's Quest for 'Belonging' Led Him to QAnon, the Insurrection — and Now Prison
Capitol Offense: Nicholas Languerand's Quest for 'Belonging' Led Him to QAnon, the Insurrection — and Now Prison
A 12-page affidavit prepared by a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent describes how authorities used extensive video footage from the scene to identify Nichols. They were apparently aided by a publicly accessible video in which one person at the scene interviewed a bearded man who was wearing a camouflage jacket and a combat vest.
"I’m Arthur Nichols Jr. I’m from the Socialist Paradise of Vermont,” the otherwise-camouflaged interviewee can be heard saying, according to the affidavit.
Authorities say Nichols, wearing the same clothing, was caught on video confronting police. Nichols can be seen carrying a clear, circular plastic shield near an entrance to the Capitol, according to prosecutors. Images included in the affidavit show the man hitting several officers with the shield at various points. When an officer tried to take back the shield, Nichols grabbed his arm and pushed him, the government alleges.
"The officer was screaming in pain from an injury he suffered during the above-described attack," the FBI agent's affidavit states. "At the same time, rioters can be heard chanting, 'TRAITORS, TRAITORS,' at the police officers."
A man with the same name and age as Nichols pleaded guilty to aggravated domestic assault in Bennington County in 2012 after his mother broke her arm while trying to break up a fight that Nichols started.
While that Vermont criminal case was pending, court records state, Nichols at one point "fled to France," where he unsuccessfully attempted to join the French Foreign Legion, a division of the French army that accepts foreign recruits and issues them new identities.
Contacted by phone on Wednesday, Nichols' mother declined to comment and said she was unaware of the criminal charges related to the insurrection. "We don't speak," she said of her son.
More than 950 people have been arrested so far for their actions during the Capitol riots, according to federal prosecutors.
Read the affidavit below:
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