A geophysicist who allegedly beat police officers who were trying to help injured rioters during the US Capitol siege will be jailed before trial, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, citing the man’s ham-handed attempt to flee to Switzerland as proof that he poses a literal flight risk.
Judge Emmet Sullivan said Jeffrey Sabol was too dangerous to release due to the flight risk and because he might continue his fight against “perceived tyranny” once he is out of jail.
“He stripped a vulnerable police officer of his police baton,” Sullivan wrote in a 64-page ruling. “He then used that stolen police baton to force another officer away from his post and into a mob of rioters who proceeded to viciously attack him, leaving him bleeding from the head.”
Sabol was indicted alongside four others who allegedly assaulted the officers, including one who was beaten while being dragged face-down into the crowd. He hasn’t yet entered a plea.
Sabol took drastic steps after the January 6 insurrection because he “reached a mental breaking point,” according to court filings. He traveled from his native Colorado to Boston and booked a flight to Switzerland, where he believed he would be protected from extradition, according to court filings. But he abandoned that plan after seeing law enforcement officers at the airport.
Instead, he rented a car and drove south. He later told investigators that while he was driving he threw his cell phone over a bridge near Boston because he thought he was being tracked.
Motorists spotted his car driving erratically and police pulled him over in Clarkstown, New York, where they found him “covered in blood” from severe cuts on his arm and thighs, according to court filings. He said, according to court documents, “I am wanted by the FBI” because “I was fighting tyranny in the DC Capitol,” and notified the officers that “my wounds are self-inflicted and “I am done fighting.”
He was taken into custody in mid-January and has been in jail ever since. In arguing for Sabol’s release, his lawyers told the judge that living with his family members in New York could improve his mental health and that he has “recovered from the episode.”
“The Court sincerely hopes that is true,” Sullivan wrote, referring to Sabol’s mental recovery. “But the Court cannot ignore that Mr. Sabol presents a flight risk nonetheless. Considering the steps he took to flee to Switzerland to avoid arrest, Mr. Sabol is the epitome of a flight risk.”
Sabol’s lawyers have said his behavior on January 6 “appears to have arisen in the context of a hysterical throng,” and they submitted letters to the court from friends and associates attesting to his “peaceful and nonviolent” history. His attorneys also claimed that video of Sabol’s alleged assault was unclear as to whether he was “helping, rather than harming” one of the officers.
His lawyers also said Sabol was “lied to” about the 2020 election by former President Donald Trump as well as Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and longtime political adviser Roger Stone.
CNN’s Hannah Rabinowitz contributed to this report.