A Tennessee man and his mother could be released from jail after a federal appeals court said the two participants in the Capitol incursion do not pose a threat to the public.
During the chaotic events of Jan. 6, Eric Munchel had been photographed in the Senate gallery holding multiple pairs of plastic handcuffs, noted WTVF-TV.
He and his mother, Lisa Eisenhart, were later arrested: Munchel’s arrest was reported Jan. 10 in USA Today; Eisenhart was arrested the next week, according to HuffPost. They face multiple charges, according to WXIA-TV.
On Friday, a federal appeals court said the case for holding them needs a new look, according to The Hill.
“That Munchel and Eisenhart assaulted no one on January 6; that they did not enter the Capitol by force; and that they vandalized no property are all factors that weigh against a finding that either pose a threat of ‘using force to promote [their] political ends,'” Judge Judith Rogers wrote in the ruling, saying that a hearing should be held on their release.
“In our view, those who actually assaulted police officers and broke through windows, doors and barricades, and those who aided, conspired with, planned or coordinated such actions, are in a different category of dangerousness than those who cheered on the violence or entered the Capitol after others cleared the way,” Rogers wrote.
— The Hill (@thehill) March 27, 2021
Video evidence showed that although Munchel and Eisenhart entered the Capitol, they walked in past Capitol police officers who did not try to stop them.
“They searched for no Members of Congress, and they harassed no police officers,” wrote Judge Gregory S. Katsas, who said they should be released.
“They found plastic handcuffs by chance, but never threatened to use them. Munchel’s threat to ‘break’ anyone who vandalized the Capitol was intended to prevent destruction,” Katsas wrote.
Katsas wrote that “the defendants’ actual conduct belied their rhetorical bravado.”
“During the chaos of the Capitol riot, Munchel and Eisenhart had ample opportunity to fight, yet neither of them did,” he wrote.
“Munchel lawfully possessed several firearms in his home, but he took none to the Capitol,” Katsas wrote.
Judge Robert Wilkins wrote that the rioting around them impacted the two.
“Because Munchel and Eisenhart did not vandalize any property or commit violence, the presence of the group was critical to their ability to obstruct the vote and to cause danger to the community,” he wrote.
“Without it, Munchel and Eisenhart—two individuals who did not engage in any violence and who were not involved in planning or coordinating the activities—seemingly would have posed little threat,” Wilkins wrote.
No date for a hearing was scheduled.
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