New York man pleads guilty to snatching officer's pepper spray during US Capitol riot

WASHINGTON (AP) — An upstate New York man has pleaded guilty to charges that he snatched away a police officer's can of pepper spray during a chaotic clash with officers guarding the U.S. Capitol building during the Jan. 6, 2021 riot.

Federal prosecutors said Friday that Troy Weeks, 38, was among a group that tried to overwhelm officers who were blocking an entryway to the building as supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol grounds in protest of Trump's election loss.

He has pleaded guilty to felony charges of civil disorder and assaulting, resisting, or impeding an officer, as well as a handful of related misdemeanor charges. His attorneys did not immediately return an emailed request for comment.

On Jan. 6, Weeks worked his way through a crowd to a line of police stationed at a Capitol entryway, thrusting his hand through a broken window to grab a can of pepper spray from an officer, authorities said. The officer was able to snatch the can back from Weeks as he was pulling his arm through the window, according to court documents.

Weeks then pushed past a set of doors and pressed into the line of officers, grabbing onto one of their shields before an officer pepper sprayed him, authorities said. He eventually exited the entryway but returned about 40 minutes later with other rioters to again push against the police line.

Weeks remained on the Capitol grounds after his clash with police, and was later recorded on a body camera asking officers why they weren't “protecting the ballots,” according to court documents.

Law enforcement used images from the Capitol and matched them with a picture on Instagram to identify Weeks, according to court records. Authorities then traveled to his hometown of Greenville in upstate New York to find a relative, landlord and coworker, and eventually obtained bank records and a video of Weeks at an ATM to further identify him.

The U.S. Justice Department said more than 1,400 people have been charged for crimes related to the Capitol riot, with their investigation still ongoing. Weeks is scheduled to be sentenced in November.