Central Texas man charged in US Capitol riot 'relieved and thankful' following federal judges' release

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 1:33 PM CST
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WASHINGTON (KWTX) – A federal judge Monday in Washington, D. C. ordered the release of Waco area businessman Christopher Grider, who’s been jailed since Jan. 21 after he was named in a seven-count indictment stemming from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol that charged destruction of government property and aiding and abetting; entering and remaining in a restricted building; disorderly and disruptive conflict in a restricted building or grounds; obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting; disorderly conduct in a Capitol Building; impeding passage through the Capitol grounds or buildings, and act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings.

U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson didn’t require Grider to post bond, but set a number of conditions including GPS ankle monitoring.

He’s also not allowed to return to Washington, D.C., except for court business.

Grider pleaded not guilty to all counts Monday.

A status conference was set for April 6, which will likely be held virtually due to COVID-19.

“There’s no trial settings right now due to COVID, so that, along with just the vast amount of evidence, it’s too soon tell whether we’re going to to go trial, whether we’re going to plead guilty, whether the government is going to continue to move forward...so there’s a very long road ahead in terms of where we’re going to go with this,” said T. Brent Mayr, Grider’s defense attorney.

After being transferred from Austin to the Limestone County Detention Center to the Grady County Jail in Chickasha, Oklahoma, Grider arrived home Monday, Mayr told KWTX.

The Houston-based attorney was leaving the Waco Airport Tuesday afternoon following his first face-to-face meeting with his client.

”It was very emotional, and very nice to finally get to meet and talk with him in-person, this was just the first of many meetings that I needed to have with him,” said Mayr. “He’s so relieved and thankful to be home with his family, he’s ready to get back to work in his community, he’s ready to get back to work on his business, he’s ready to do all of that, but he also knows that he’s got a long and difficult road ahead.”

Brown overturned a detention order issued on Jan. 27 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Hightower in Austin, who twice rejected motions from Grider seeking to reopen the detention hearing.

“The judge in Austin was just looking at bits and pieces that the government wanted her to see,” said Mayr.

Mayr said there was no written order, that Judge Brown issued her findings orally, but they were “very extensive findings.”

“The judge reviewed all of the evidence that we had submitted, letters from multiple people accounting for Chris’ good reputation and peaceful reputation within the community, as well as the evidence in the case, videos from that day that he took that showed that he was not doing anything violent,” said Mayr. “And after reviewing all that evidence and considering the law, we’re pleased because she not only followed the law, but she carefully examined all of the evidence including evidence my client had that showed he was not like those other people.”

Grider surrendered to FBI agents on Jan. 21 in Austin after he was named in a warrant signed on Jan. 20 by a U.S. magistrate judge.

After his initial detention hearing on Jan. 27, Hightower ordered that Grider be transferred to Washington D.C., to be held without bond pending further proceedings.

The next day, on Jan. 28, she denied a motion to reopen the detention hearing, saying there’s strong evidence Grider “participated at the forefront in the events.”

In the Jan. 28 ruling, Hightower wrote, “whether or not he led or encouraged others in the alleged commission of the offenses charged, there is extremely strong evidence that Mr. Grider participated at the forefront in the events that led to the fatal shooting inside the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.”

In the motion to reopen the detention hearing filed on Feb. 1, Mayr, said photos from Grider’s computer discovered on Jan. 29 show his client walking up to a ground level entrance to the Capitol and walking through an open door that does not appear to have been opened by force.

“There is clearly no forcible entry made by the defendant,” he said in the motion.

A video was also found that shows Grider walking up to the entrance of the Speaker’s Lobby where Capitol officers are standing guard, the motion says.

Grider, the motion says, “does not yell, shout, or make any threatening comments to them. Instead, he is heard telling the officers, ‘People are going to get crushed on that other side if they don’t open that door’…(and) pleading with the officers, telling them, ‘There are two cops getting crushed.’”

A second video was discovered that shows Grider followed officers as they moved away from the door to the Speaker’s Lobby, the motion says.

“This new material corroborates what the defendant has maintained all along: his presence in the Capitol was not one of a person who intended to inflict harm on anyone or commit any violent acts. He wanted his voice to be heard and nothing more.”

Mayr says those videos, along with letters from supporters, were key in his release, as was distinguishing Grider, a Trump supporter, from right-wing extremist groups and those seeking to do harm on Jan. 6.

“Mr. Grider’s not involved or associated with any of those groups, more importantly, the judge also noted that there was no evidence of him planning to do this,” Mayr told KWTX Tuesday.

Grider, a husband and father of three boys, has been remorseful since day one, Mayr says, and they’re hoping for a fair shake in court.

“Immediately afterwards, he recognized that he witnessed something we’ve never seen before, and he hates that he was a witness to everything that took place,” said Mayr. “But he also knows that because he didn’t go there intending to do harm, he’s hoping that the criminal justice system is going to treat him fairly.”

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