Capitol Insurrection

Man Who Propped Feet Up in Pelosi's Office Complains of Treatment in DC Jail

“I’m innocent 'til proven guilty, but what's happened with this particular pretrial detention, they have turned it into a punishment”

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The man captured in the now infamous photo putting his feet on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during the U.S. Capitol insurrection is among a growing number of Jan. 6 defendants complaining about D.C.'s jail.

Richard “Bigo” Barnett, of Arkansas, is one of dozens of insurrection defendants who was detained in the D.C. jail.

He spent three months inside awaiting hearings and was released a few weeks ago, but told News4 he wanted to speak out about what life is like inside the jail.

While inside, Barnett got into trouble and was frequently placed in solitary confinement, he told News4.

“I was being punished for speaking up, yes, and even when I just spoke up and showed them the rules in the book that made it even worse,” Barnett said in a video interview.

A growing number of defendants are seeking release from the D.C. jail. In a series of new court filings, they argued the jail isn’t safe for them and they made formal complaints about the conditions inside.

D.C.’s aging jail has frequently suffered heating, air or water problems.

“I’m innocent 'til proven guilty, but what's happened with this particular pretrial detention, they have turned it into a punishment,” he said.

Other defendants have argued they can’t get access to proper medical care in the jail.

Domenic Pezzola, of New York, who is accused of breaking open a Capitol window
with a stolen police riot shield, says there’s no privacy, a lack of personal hygiene and 23-hour lockdowns due to COVID-19.

News4 pressed Barnett to talk about his case, but he declined because he says he’s still facing a possible trial.

Then, we asked why he thinks others would care about his complaints.

“You can love me. You can hate me. You can love me and hate what I did. You can not like anything about me. But you have to put that aside because this isn’t about me. This is about our federal prison system in America,” he said.

Barnett confirmed the Jan. 6 defendants are all housed together in a separate unit separate from all other defendants inside. They sing the national anthem together each morning or night and they’ve even a started their own jail newsletter.

“We would all contribute to it and pass it cell to cell. Like in any prison, things get passed,” Barnett said.

The D.C. jail and U.S. Justice Dept declined News4's requests for comment.

Former D.C. federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner says it’s wise of the jail to keep these defendants separate from the others.

“They are laboring under a really tight resources and they always have been. I think the DOC officials do the best they can,” Kirschner siad.

Barnett pleaded not guilty and he faces the possibility of trial and, if convicted, more time behind bars.

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