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Iowan Facing Charges For Capitol Riot Pleads Not Guilty, Requests Release

Des Moines resident Doug Jensen advances on a law enforcement officer inside the U.S. Capitol.
Manuel Balce Ceneta
Des Moines resident Doug Jensen advances on a law enforcement officer inside the U.S. Capitol.

An Iowan who gained notoriety for apparently leading a crowd of rioters during the attack on the U.S. Capitol in January has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges. Doug Jensen was arraigned in federal court in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, and is seeking to be released from custody, arguing he has had a “wakeup call” since being detained.

Appearing via videoconference before U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, Doug Jensen of Des Moines pleaded not guilty to seven federal charges related to his involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The counts he faces include:

  • Civil Disorder
  • Obstruction of an Official Proceeding
  • Assaulting, Resisting, or Impeding Certain Officers
  • Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon
  • Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon
  • Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building
  • Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building

Photos and videos of Jensen wearing a QAnon T-shirt and apparently leading a mob in chasing a lone Black police officer through the Capitol are among the most notorious images of the insurrection.

In a viral video filmed by Huffington Post reporter Igor Bobic, Jensen can be seen chasing Officer Eugene Goodman of the U.S. Capitol Police up a series of stairs outside the Senate chambers with a crowd of rioters close behind.

Bobic and the Washington Post have reported that Goodman was able to successfully lead Jensen and the other rioters away from the Senate at the exact moment officers inside were scrambling to secure the doors to the chamber, where lawmakers were hiding.

Last month, every Republican member of Iowa's congressional delegation but one voted against establishing a January 6 commission to investigate the attack; Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks joined the state's lone Democrat in Congress, Rep. Cindy Axne, in supporting the measure.

Jensen has been in custody since he turned himself in to authorities on January 9. This week he filed a request to be released from detention, arguing that he fell victim to online conspiracy theories but has since recognized he was “deceived” and that he “bought into a pack of lies."

According to the filing, Jensen became a “true believer” of QAnon and went to the Capitol “at the direction of the President of the United States” to prove that he was a “true patriot."

The filing cites Jensen’s own “dysfunctional childhood” and QAnon’s purported mission of “eliminating pedophiles from society” as factors that contributed to his indoctrination.

“For reasons he does not even understand today, he became a “true believer” and was convinced he [was] doing a noble service by becoming a digital soldier for “Q”. Maybe it was mid-life crisis, the pandemic, or perhaps the message just seemed to elevate him from his ordinary life to an exalted status with an honorable goal,” the filing reads.

Still, Jensen’s attorney Christopher Davis claims his client only went to the Capitol “to observe," and that though he carried a pocketknife, he didn’t plan to “arm himself” or intend to be a part of any mob that day.

Davis argues it was Jensen’s “love and concern for his family” that has served as a “wakeup call” that has “ended his victimization."

Jensen is seeking to be released on house arrest with the hope of providing for his family, who have suffered “extreme financial hardship” during his detention. Jensen also intends to get his affairs in order ahead of a possible conviction, according to the filing.

Court documents have suggested that Jensen may be working out a plea deal. During Tuesday’s hearing, prosecutor Hava Mirell acknowledged that the issue of pretrial detention has become a “sticking point," which once resolved, can allow the parties to move forward with “any further negotiations."

A bond hearing is scheduled for June 24. Jensen’s attorney is expected to present evidence, including a video taken during the attack on the Capitol, portions of an interview with Jensen conducted by investigators, and testimony from his wife.

In February, Judge Kelly ordered Jensen to remain in custody, finding that the nature and circumstances of his charges are “gravely serious” and that the strength of the government’s evidence against him is “overwhelming."

In a February 23 order, Kelly found that Jensen’s continued detention was warranted because “no condition or combination of conditions of release” will reasonably ensure the safety of the community.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter