Capitol Riot

‘Sedition Panda' convicted of assaulting officer on Jan. 6 after judge calls defense argument ‘absurd'

Jesse James Rumson was convicted Friday of assaulting Prince George’s County Cpl. Scott Ainsworth

A still of a video showing a crowd of people, with a person in a panda costume on the right side of the image. The man in the panda costume is annotated with a yellow rectangle.
U.S. Department of Justice

A Jan. 6 rioter dubbed "Sedition Panda" for the costume head he wore when he stormed the Capitol has been convicted on each of the eight charges he faced, including assaulting a police officer, according to NBC News.

Jesse James Rumson was convicted Friday of assaulting Prince George’s County Cpl. Scott Ainsworth, a lifelong Republican who testified about the Jan. 6 riot during Rumson's trial last week.

Ainsworth testified that it was difficult to come to grips with being attacked by members of his own party. “I’m a Republican, these are my fellow Republicans,” he said, adding that some of the Republicans in his life now want nothing to do with him because of his service on Jan. 6, 2021.

“Are you crazy?” Ainsworth recalled thinking of those in the GOP who support what happened on Jan. 6. “This was stupid, it was not necessary.”

Rumson opted for a bench trial before U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, a Donald Trump appointee who has been one of the most lenient judges for Jan. 6 defendants. Nichols is responsible for rejecting the obstruction of an official proceeding charge that has been used against hundreds of Jan. 6 rioters, an issue which is now pending before the Supreme Court.

Starting with President Trump’s “Save America Rally” speech, to rioters breaching the U.S. Capitol and ending with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris confirmed as the next President and Vice President of the U.S., here’s a look at what happened at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, 2021.

Nichols said Friday that the evidence showed Rumson "repeatedly rushing towards the police" before Rumson assaulted Ainsworth, saying the evidence of the assault was "crystal clear" and calling some of the arguments from Rumson and his lawyer "absurd." Rumson claimed during his testimony that he didn't realize the Capitol building was restricted until he was inside, even though evidence showed he jumped over a railing and joined the mob surging inside seconds after a window on the door was smashed out by cane-wielding Jan. 6 rioter William Bierbrodt, who has since died. Rumson ended up in handcuffs inside the Capitol and lost his panda head and backpack, but was freed from his handcuffs by other members of the mob once he got outside.

While outside the building, Rumson yelled "get a ram!" as rioters smashed a window, video evidence at trial showed; he claimed at trial he "could not fathom" saying that. He admitted that he made contact with Ainworth's helmet but claimed it was accidental. He offered no logical explanation for why he rushed at police again and again.

Nichols said the evidence showed that Rumson listened to the entirety of former President Trump's speech that morning before heading to the Capitol and found that the evidence showed Rumson witnessed chaos and conflicts between rioters and police before he made his way up to the upper west terrace and, eventually, inside the building.

Nichols said there could be no reasonable doubt that Rumson knew he wasn't allowed inside the Capitol, especially after he was placed in handcuffs and noted that he continued to stay on the grounds for 90 minutes after he was freed from the handcuffs, before his assault on Ainsworth.

Nichols found that Rumson "grasped and lifted up" Ainsworth's mask and that Rumson "grasped the face shield and pushed it back and up," calling Rumson's testimony on the stand "entirely inconsistent with the video and testimony evidence before me." Rumson's testimony was "impossible to reconcile" with the evidence in the case, Nichols said.

"His conduct at the Capitol was no accident," Nichols said.

Nichols set Rumson's sentencing for Sept. 5 at 11 a.m. and let "Sedition Panda" remain free after the government declined to move for post-conviction captivity.

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