WASHINGTON — An Olathe man, and self-described member of the far-right organization The Proud Boys, filed a motion asking a federal judge to release him from jail to await trial.
William Chrestman, 47, faces conspiracy, civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer, and other crimes for his alleged involvement in the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
Federal prosecutors responded to the request by releasing a transcript of phone calls they say Chrestman made, and recorded, during and following the attack. They argue the transcript shows Chrestman’s actions that day and prove that he is a danger to the public.
“We stormed the Capitol building! We rushed that s***! We took that house back…we took
it over…We made the House leave…they couldn’t finish their vote…that hasn’t been done since
1850…it was different than chaos; we the people took control!”
Federal prosecutors said that quote is just part of the conversation Chrestman had with an unidentified person following the riot. They argued that the call proved Chrestman celebrated his role in the insurrection.
Former federal prosecutor Pat McInerney said criminals often celebrate alleged crimes.
“People who commit crimes are often really proud of what they’ve done and they like to memorialize that,” McInerney said. “They like to tell their friends, they’d like to brag about it. So Mr. Chrestman fell into that trap and made that mistake, and the government got ahold of it.”
In the recorded phone call, prosecutors said Chrestman told the person he talked to about how rioters got into the Capitol that day. According to the transcript, Chrestman said he helped kick down the fence.
“The first fence that was up there–bunch of people were standing against it, yelling at the cops, the cops started getting nervous and then–so I kicked the fence, I said, uh–uh–“We wan–we wanna talk to the f****** House right now!” [noise] And . . . all these people started yelling and, uhm, I kicked the fu-f****** fence again.”
McInerney said the government is making a clear distinction between the leaders and the followers in the deadly Capitol riot. The other local people charged in the capitol violence have been released, but McInerney said the new evidence sets Chrestman apart from others.
“One of the distinctions that’s been made is that the people at the forefront were probably the most destructive and the most dangerous and the most culpable for that,” McInerney said. “The people that followed the people that climb stairs that have already been climbed and went through doors that had already been broken down. The courts have viewed those people as somewhat less dangerous.”
In his detention memo to the judge, Chrestman’s attorney argued that he wasn’t at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as an official member of The Proud Boys. Federal prosecutors said they have proof, straight from Chrestman’s mouth, that he was there with the organization.
In another transcript released by prosecutors, Chrestman identified himself as being with the Kansas City chapter of the Proud Boys and said:
“… They all followed us, Proud Boys. We-we marched straight–we marched straight from the uh, uh, Washington Memorial . . . all the way down to the, uh, Capitol Building.” Prosecutors said Crestman continued the call and said, “Before all this s*** started people were–uh, patriots from all over the country–no b*******, coming up askin’, “Are you guys Proud Boys?” And we’re like, “Uh, yeah!” And they go, “Oh, my God, could we get our pictures taken with you guys? You guys are great!” Uh–they were treating us like f****** rock stars!”
“He kind of cast himself as a leader, as somebody who was one of the point man in this this insurrection effort against the Capitol and against the Congress on January 6,” McInerney said.
At one point in the transcript, Chrestman also said he armed himself with the axe handle and that he fought an officer while inside the Capitol.
Federal prosecutors said that Chrestman’s self-recorded videos and telephone calls detailed his conduct. They also said social media and surveillance video showed Chrestman’s actions and prove that he is a danger to public safety and should remain behind bars to await trial.
Chrestman has been behind bars since federal agents arrested him in February. His attorney argues Chrestman is not a safety risk, a point in which prosecutors adamantly disagree. Chrestman is scheduled to be back in court later this month.