Court

Houston man who struck officer with flagpole during U.S. Capitol insurrection pleads guilty

Joshua Lee Hernandez, 29, pleaded guilty to two felony crimes and faces up to 13 years in prison for his involvement in the insurrection in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.

U.S. Capitol Riot
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

A Houston man who participated in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 – parading around the building with an American flag and using the flagpole to assault a police officer – pleaded guilty this week to two felony charges.

Joshua Lee Hernandez, 29, who in February of this year was indicted on nine criminal charges by a federal grand jury, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder and one count of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers. As part of his plea agreement, Hernandez agreed to assist federal agents with their ongoing investigation into the capitol breach, including by allowing them to review his social media posts around the time of the insurrection, federal court documents show.

Hernandez is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 2, 2023, and faces a maximum prison term of 13 years for the two crimes. He also could be fined up to $500,000.

Jay Mykytiuk, one of the attorneys representing Hernandez, declined to comment on the case.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said more than 880 people have been arrested in nearly all of the 50 U.S. states for crimes related to the capitol breach, in which supporters of then-President Donald Trump disrupted a joint session of Congress and attempted to prevent lawmakers from certifying the 2020 presidential election results in favor of Joe Biden. More than 270 of those people have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement, according to the attorney's office.

RELATED: Seabrook man sentenced to prison for role in U.S. Capitol insurrection

Five people died during the insurrection, which injured more than 100 police officers and resulted in more than $2.7 million in damages and losses, according to court records.

Hernandez, who lives in Houston and also goes by "Ace Hernandez," traveled from Memphis, Tennessee to Washington D.C. to "protest the results" of the presidential election, court documents show. He marched with other rioters from the National Mall onto restricted grounds of the capitol complex early on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, and incited the crowd by waiving his flag and chanting.

Hernandez entered the capitol building at 2:13 p.m. through a window near the Senate Wing Doors, according to court records, which show he then made his way around the building during the next 40 minutes. When he got to the interior door of the East Rotunda, which was guarded by two U.S. Capitol police officers, Hernandez shouted and waived to others to "join him in a group push against the officers" in order to open the door to others who were outside, court documents show.

Once the door was open, Hernandez raised his flagpole above the group and used it to strike an officer on his riot helmet, according to court records.

Hernandez was charged for his role in the insurrection this February and subsequently arrested in Memphis.

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