WASHINGTON — A West Virginia man accused of taking part in a pepper spray assault on police during the insurrection on Jan. 6 was released from DC Jail Friday after five months. His first words on camera?
"I hear Joe Biden is doing a great job," George Pierre Tanios said to WUSA9's Eric Flack as he climbed into a car with his fiancee Amanda.
Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, West Virginia, was indicted in March along with co-defendant Julian Khater on multiple charges, including assault on a federal officer with a dangerous weapon. In charging documents, the Justice Department said the pair purchased bear spray and pepper spray before traveling to D.C. on Jan. 6.
While federal prosecutors initially claimed body camera video showed Tanios and Khater had assaulted officers at the U.S. Capitol with bear spray – including Officer Brian Sicknick, who died a day later after suffering multiple strokes – they eventually walked that back and said it appeared it had been less-noxious pepper spray. Tanios’ lawyer, Richard Walker, said his client didn’t use the spray at all.
In March, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan ordered the two men held without bond pending trial, and both subsequently filed appeals. On Aug.10, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for D.C. filed a unanimous opinion reversing Hogan’s decision and ordering Tanios released on appropriate conditions. In the decision, the court found Hogan had “erred” in his assessment of Tanio’s dangerousness.
“The record reflects that Tanios has no past felony convictions, no ties to any extremist organizations, and no post-January 6 criminal behavior that would otherwise show him to pose a danger to the community,” the court wrote.
The same court issued the opposite ruling for Khater in July, finding that it was proper to detain him before trial.
In its July order keeping Khater in custody, the appeals court referenced Tanios’ alleged actions – specifically, audio of him telling Khater not to get the bear spray out of his backpack yet, saying it was “still early” – saying they corroborated evidence of “planning and coordination” to attack police. But the court decided those alleged actions weren’t enough to keep Tanios himself in jail.
Tanios was ordered to home incarceration with an ankle bracelet to monitor him. Walker said he plans to ask the court to loosen the house arrest restrictions in 30 days so Tanios can leave his home for work.
His next scheduled court hearing is set for Sept. 8 at 10 a.m.
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