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Jan. 6 rioter cooperated with prosecutors in murder case, court records show

Jan. 6 rioter cooperated with prosecutors in murder case, court records show 1

WASHINGTON — A Jan. 6 rioter who admitted assaulting officers with chemical spray and using a bullhorn to urge the pro-Trump mob to steal law enforcement’s guns received a reduced sentence after “fulsome” cooperation with the government, according to court records unsealed Wednesday.

That rioter, Samuel Lazar, has assisted prosecutors with cases against other Capitol rioters as well as a fellow federal criminal defendant charged in a murder case, the court records show.

Lazar, as NBC News first reported, was sentenced during a closed proceeding in March. After having pleaded guilty to assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers with a dangerous weapon, he received two-and-a-half years, or 30 months, in prison. Lazar was arrested in July 2021 and ordered detained until trial; Bureau of Prisons records showed he was released from custody in September 2023.

Before his arrest and while Lazar’s photo was featured on the FBI’s Capitol Violence website, Lazar attended a political event featuring Rudy Giuliani and was repeatedly photographed with Doug Mastriano, a far-right Pennsylvania Republican who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year and helped spread the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election. (Mastriano was present at the Capitol on Jan. 6, but there’s no evidence that he entered the building and he has not been charged in relation to the attack.)

Lazar did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

As part of his guilty plea, Lazar admitted that he was armed with a chemical weapon when he grabbed a bike rack and then sprayed officers “M.C.” and “S.L.” with the chemical weapon.

“Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle,” read a patch on the tactical vest he wore on Jan. 6.

He also admitted to and was filmed yelling through a bullhorn to the mob at the Capitol: “Let’s get their guns! Let’s get their guuuns!”

NBC News spotted Lazar’s family at the federal courthouse in Washington on his sentencing date in March and was part of a press coalition that urged the court to unseal information about how his case was handled. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered court records unsealed on Tuesday, saying that the defense and prosecution had missed a deadline for proposed redactions. The records were unsealed on Wednesday but were removed from the court docket after prosecutors and defense attorneys said they had submitted proposed redactions back in November and asked the court to post the redacted versions instead.

The unredacted documents taken from the court website before they were removed from the docket show that Lazar cooperated extensively with the government. As part of his cooperation, prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo, Lazar “debriefed with the Government multiple times,” was ready to testify in a murder case unrelated to Jan. 6, “offered information regarding security breaches at a federal detention facility” and “gave the government valuable information with respect to other January 6 defendants.”

Lazar’s lawyer called his client’s cooperation “significant” and wrote that Lazar’s actions on Jan. 6 “stand in stark contrast to the person that he truly is and the life that he led prior to that fateful day.” Lazar’s lawyer wrote that, after Jan. 6, Lazar “realized that he had been swept up in the false narrative spun by the President of the United States” and that he had “blindly followed President Trump’s cry to ‘fight like hell to take back the country.’”

Lazar’s lawyer claimed in his sentencing memo that Lazar “never breached the police barricades” and “never ascended the steps to the Capitol” and those claims were not disputed by prosecutors. But video evidence uncovered by online “sedition hunters“ who have aided in cases against hundreds of Capitol rioters contradicts those claims. The Justice Department and FBI have routinely missed key evidence unearthed and compiled by online sleuths, and in this case, the closed proceedings meant that the video evidence never made it into court filings and was not considered by the judge before sentencing.

The videos show that Lazar was one of the first individuals to storm past the barricades at Peace Circle, where the first breach took place. Later video shows that Lazar did ascend the steps of the Capitol and was at the front lines of a confrontation with law enforcement as the mob tried to breach the building. Extensive videos and photos captured that scene, including one video that appears to show Lazar removing another barricade. Images of that scene at the North Door featuring Lazar were even part of an FBI affidavit filed back in 2021, but none of the conduct on those videos was included in DOJ’s sentencing memo.

A federal prosecutor on the case did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Hope Lefeber, an attorney for Lazar, told NBC News that she has “never seen any evidence” of Lazar being a part of the initial breach and joining the mob at the North Doors and noted that the government did not allege such conduct.

More than 1,200 people have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, and more than 450 have been sentenced to periods of incarceration.

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