Another South Carolinian pleads guilty in Jan. 6 Capitol riot case

Provided by U.S. Department of Justice/U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, DC

Another South Carolina man has pleaded guilty to a felony charge of assaulting an officer during the Jan. 6, 2021, riots, when thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to try to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president.

Christopher George Rockey, 54, of Cross, in Berkeley County, admitted his guilt Wednesday in court in Washington before U.S. Judge Rudolph Contreras.

In his guilty plea, Rockey admitted assaulting and interfering with a Metropolitan police officer on the Upper Terrace of the Capitol while the officer was trying to keep order. In return for his guilty plea, seven other criminal counts against Rockey will be dropped, according to court records.

The maximum penalty for interfering with a police officer in this case is eight years in prison and a fine of $250,000, according to court records. Although Rockey will almost certainly get some prison time, defendants usually get far less than the maximum.

Currently, Rockey is estimated to get from 24 to 30 months in prison, according to court records.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 12 in Washington before Judge Contreras.

Rockey is represented by Brady Vannoy, a Moncks Corner attorney.

Vannoy said late Friday his client is a disabled U.S. Marine veteran who fought in Desert Storm and was stationed in numerous places around the world.

“He has immense remorse for being there that day and for participating,” said Vannoy, who will be seeking a non-custodial sentence for his client.

Rockey served in Iraq, Kuwait, Okinawa, Saudi Arabia and Korea, he said. His disabilities preclude any employment, he said.

Rockey is one of 27 South Carolinians arrested so far in the Jan. 6 riots. Like many in the riot, he had attended then-President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally and proceeded to the Capitol with a mob of thousands who broke through police barricades and entered the Capitol, which was closed to the public that day, according to court records. He had entered the Capitol and spent about 30 minutes inside before exiting to an upper portion on the building’s north side.

A statement of Rockey’s offense agreed upon by defense and prosecution says Rockey grabbed the shields and a baton of three different officers and pulled them down while the officers were trying to clear the Upper Terrace of the Capitol. Officers were calling “Move Back,” and members of the crowd were yelling “Hold the line” and “Traitor” at the time, according to the statement of facts.

Rockey is the 20th person from South Carolina to plead guilty to charges in the Capitol breach. Another man was found guilty after a jury trial.

Evidence against all South Carolina defendants who have pleaded guilty is overwhelming. It includes data from their cellphones, geolocation trackers, surveillance camera images and police body cam videos and their own selfies and other incriminating postings on social media, as well as statements they told friends and relatives, according to court records.

On Jan. 6, 2001, tens of thousands of people arrived in Washington to protest the presidential election and to listen to speeches making false claims by Trump and others that the Nov. 3 election was rigged in favor of Democrats.

Those claims had been thrown out of some 60 courts, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump’s own attorney general, William Barr, publicly stated that the FBI had investigated claims of election fraud and found nothing that would have changed the election’s outcome.

After Trump’s speech, several thousand protesters made their way to the Capitol building, breached the defenses and entered the building. At the time, the House and Senate were conducting a ceremonial but necessary certification of the Electoral College votes from each state. Members of Congress fled and did not return for six hours, until the building was secured.

Since the Jan. 6, 2001, Capitol breach, more than 1,457 defendants have been charged in nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Approximately 517 have been charged with assaulting or resisting officers. Approximately 835

individuals have pleaded guilty to a variety of federal charges, many of whom faced or will face incarceration at sentencing.

It is the largest investigation in Department of Justice history and is still continuing.