Man accused of attacking AP photographer pleads guilty to assaulting officer during Capitol riot
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Man accused of attacking AP photographer pleads guilty to assaulting officer during Capitol riot

An Oklahoma man pleaded guilty Thursday to assaulting a police officer during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, during which he also allegedly pushed an Associated Press photographer through a wall.

Benjamen Scott Burlew, 44, of Miami, Oklahoma, disappeared for several months after failing to appear in court in Washington last year. He was arrested again on May 13 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and remained in jail pending his guilty plea.

U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss is scheduled to sentence Burlew on Sept. 20. Estimated sentencing guidelines in Burlew’s case recommend a prison sentence of 30 to 37 months, consistent with his plea agreement. The judge is not bound by this recommendation.

Defense attorney Robert Jenkins said Burlew and his family “can’t wait to put this entire episode behind us.”

“Today he accepted responsibility for (his) conduct, admitting it was criminal in nature,” Jenkins said after the hearing.

Burlew pleaded guilty to an assault charge, agreeing that he approached the police line behind metal barricades, grabbed a Metropolitan Police Department officer and tried to pull him into the crowd of rioters.

Burlew was also accused of assaulting an AP photographer by grabbing, dragging and ultimately pushing him over a low stone wall in front of the Capitol. Other rioters were charged with assaulting the same photographer who documented the attack by a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters.

The photographer was wearing a lanyard identifying him as an AP journalist. One of the attackers grabbed the leash and used it to pull him downstairs.

Over 100 policemen were injured in the riots. More than 1,400 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot. More than 800 of them pleaded guilty. About 200 other people were convicted after trials by a judge or jury.

Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press