A Michigan man who allegedly assaulted police with a hockey stick during the U.S. Capitol riot said he was trying to protect people who were being trampled by the mob, according to his lawyer.
Michael J. Foy, a 29-year-old Wixom man, remains in jail after being charged with multiple felonies for allegedly attacking police and entering the U.S. Capitol during the deadly Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C. Federal prosecutors said Foy was among the most violent participants in the attack and argued he should not be released on bond, but Foy’s attorney said his actions were justified.
“Mr. Foy is innocent of assault because his actions were legally justifiable,” argued A.J. Kramer, a federal public defender representing Foy. “He saw individuals in imminent danger of bodily harm and used a reasonable amount of force to protect and defend those people who were being trampled.”
Foy’s attorney described him as a kind, selfless person and provided character references from his family and friends. Kramer said the retired U.S. Marine Corps veteran didn’t organize with others to commit violence ahead of the protest; he decided to travel to Washington, D.C. that morning. Kramer said Foy was only violent for a 25-second period and isn’t likely to pose a threat to others.
In court documents, federal prosecutors describe Foy as an instigator of violence who encouraged others to break through the police line and enter the Capitol. Prosecutors said Foy’s actions “heightened the overall violence and dangerousness of the day.” They argue Foy showed a blatant disregard for the law and the legitimate functions of government, which means he shouldn’t be released before his trial starts.
“When defendant Foy assaulted law enforcement officers in his attempt to storm the U.S. Capitol, he did so in the presence of hundreds of law enforcement officers who were working to protect both the constitutionally-mandated Certification proceeding and the members of Congress duty-bound to hold that proceeding,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.
“Simply stated, if defendant Foy is unwilling to obey orders while in full view of law enforcement, or to conform his behavior to the law even when he disagrees with it, despite his prior oath to the Constitution, it is unlikely that he would adhere to this court’s directions and release orders.”
Former President Donald Trump and the Republican Party convinced Foy that the 2020 election was being stolen, his lawyer said in court documents. Foy had also attended a Nov. 6, 2020 demonstration at the TCF Center in Detroit to protest while workers were counting absentee ballots.
Kramer said Foy became involved “only because the President insisted that patriotism required action.” Foy allegedly brought a hockey stick to the Capitol from Michigan and wrapped it in a Trump campaign flag.
“He had no intentions of violence, insurrection, entering the Capitol or obstructing the certification,” Kramer said in court documents. “He wanted to hear President Trump speak in person and voice his support for the incumbent who told him that the election was not yet completed.”
Federal court documents place Foy among a mob of rioters who battled with police at the lower West Terrace outside the Capitol. From approximately 2:40 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., rioters attempted to breach the building and brawled with police officers who struggled to hold them back. Prosecutors said the West Terrace was the site of some of the “heaviest violence.”
Body camera footage from the perspective of a Capitol Police officer and additional videos taken by people on the periphery of the mob show Foy was near the front of the crowd. Videos show the crowd pushing against a line of officers who were blocking an entrance to the Capitol.
A timestamp on the body cam video indicates the footage starts around 4:26 p.m. The body camera footage shows rioters and police wrestling on top of a pile of people who fell during the chaos.
A video taken from behind the crowd shows Foy waving a hockey stick tightly wrapped with a Trump flag over his head as people started to tumble over each other. The video shows Foy bent down to pick up a pole-like object and threw it at the line of police, striking an officer in the chest.
Foy’s attorney said the body camera footage shows Rosanne Boyland had fallen on the stairs while her friend Justin Winchell, was yelling at people to move so she could get up. Boyland died after suffering a medical emergency on Jan. 6.
Body camera footage from one of the officers shows rioters climbing over one another during the brawl with armored officers. A voice can be heard shouting “save her” as the mob tumbles over itself.
“She’s dead! She’s dead,” the voice can be heard screaming. “I need somebody.”
Foy’s attorney said police pushed forward as Boyland was being trampled. HIs lawyer said Foy took action when Winchell called for help.
The crowd rushed toward police with Foy following closely behind, hockey stick raised overhead. The video shows Foy swing the stick several times, first striking a riot shield and then making contact with officers fighting back against a crowd of rioters circled around them.
Officers are struck several times by Foy, who is seen swinging the hockey stick over his head. Prosecutors accused Foy of hitting officers at least 10 times.
The officer recording the body camera footage briefly lost their helmet in the scuffle. Shortly after the officer puts the helmet back on, a man wearing a University of Michigan sweater rushed forward and pushed the officer on the ground.
As the officer lays on the ground, Foy’s hockey stick can be seen hitting police surrounding them. Federal prosecutors said several officers were dragged into the crowd, stripped of their protective gear, and beaten.
“F— you! I’ll f—ing kill you,” a voice can be heard screaming as the officer struggles to get on their feet.
The body camera footage ends with the officer still lying on their back.
Another video shared by prosecutors shows Foy backing up into the crowd before entering the Capitol through a broken window. Court documents include an image taken from Foy’s cellphone that shows some of the rioters standing in the Capitol with glass on the carpet and other signs of destruction inside the building.
It’s unclear how long Foy remained inside the Capitol. He was arrested at his home on Jan. 21. U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia T. Morris ordered that Foy should remain detained while his case was transferred to U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
Foy’s attorney asked the court to release Foy on bond last week. The judge has not yet issued a ruling.
Prosecutors argued against the request in court documents filed last Friday.
Foy served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a heavy equipment mechanic from 2015 to June 2020. He was honorably discharged at the rank of corporal after serving in Okinawa, Japan.
Foy’s attorney said he did not serve in combat but suffered “significant psychological casualties” from his time in the Marines. Court records show Foy was diagnosed with an unspecified anxiety disorder in 2019.
After returning to Michigan, Foy sought treatment at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor. He was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder and prescribed new medications on Dec. 23, 2020, two weeks before the Jan. 6 riot.
Family and friends sent letters to the judge asking for Foy’s release. The letters described Foy as a kind and generous man. Foy’s mother Laura Hartley said being incarcerated could worsen his experience with PTSD.
“As a mother, this is heartbreaking for me,” Hartley said. “My son has always had a kind heart and been so sweet and caring to others. What the media is portraying of him is not the son or person that we all love and know.”
Previous attempts by MLive reporters to contact Hartley were ignored.
Hartley wrote that Foy moved into her farm home in Standish last spring. She described how her son volunteered to perform chores and refused her offers to buy Foy a bed to use while he was there.
Foy’s father Joseph said they spent the last year building mountain biking trails in Detroit. The Motor City Mountain Biking Association sent a letter confirming Foy volunteered to develop a trail system in Rouge Park.
Hartley said her son is hardworking and prideful, but had a hard time finding a job. Another letter from a friend of Foy’s said he was looking for work as a truck mechanic. Foy was also pursuing a degree from Oakland Community College. He took one online class during the Fall 2020 semester, according to OCC.
“Please don’t let this one unfortunate moment in his life define who is for the whole 30 years of his life,” Hartley wrote. “I beg for your compassion and leniency on him, as this has all been out of character for him. Prison is not the right place for him. He is too kind and won’t last in there.”
Michael Cuff Jr., a U.S. Marine veteran who served with Foy in Japan, said his friend would be better served with counseling. Cuff said he watched the videos of Foy allegedly assaulting police, and it reminded him of times Foy would “intervene in fights to try and break people apart.”
Joseph Foy said his son didn’t go to Washington, D.C. with ill-intent. Several other family members and friends said Foy’s behavior on Jan. 6 does not align with the person they know.
“I really do not know how to address the charges he is accused of, because it is just so totally and completely in direct conflict from what I know of him,” wrote Hazel Yarnevich, Foy’s grandmother.
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