A Tennessee man who was a deputy sheriff on January 6 and wore his sheriff’s vest to the US Capitol is now behind bars after being charged in one of the most notorious police assaults from the insurrection.
Authorities said they arrested Ronald McAbee, 27, on Tuesday after a tipster recognized him from police body camera footage on the FBI’s “most wanted” website. The video allegedly shows McAbee grabbing a police officer and dragging him into the mob — all while wearing a black vest that says “SHERIFF.” He was still a deputy sheriff at the time of the Capitol siege.
A spokesperson for the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, in the Nashville area, confirmed to CNN that McAbee worked there from November 2020 until March. They wouldn’t explain his departure or whether it was connected to his presence at the Capitol on January 6.
McAbee is charged with eight federal crimes related to the Capitol riot, including assaulting an officer and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds. He has not yet entered a plea. A federal judge in Tennessee will decide next week if McAbee will remain in jail while awaiting trial. The Justice Department said in court documents that they will ask a judge to keep him behind bars.
McAbee is the latest addition to a major case against seven men allegedly involved in the brutal attack of three police officers who waded into the crowd to help a pro-Trump rioter who was trampled — only to be dragged down the stairs, stripped of their protective gear, and beaten. The trampled rioter died of a drug overdose, according to Washington, DC’s medical examiner.
Dragged into the mob
According to court documents, McAbee had been in a car accident in late December, and requested two weeks of disability leave for a shoulder injury. While he was on leave, he went to DC on January 6 wearing his government-issued tactical vest, which had two patches on it — one that said “sheriff,” and one with the logo of the Three Percenters, a right-wing extremist group, according to court filings and footage of the incident.
CNN previously obtained the harrowing footage of the police assault after suing for access. Prosecutors also described the scene in McAbee’s indictment and court filings requesting his continued detention.
One DC police officer, identified in court papers only as A.W., was thrown to the ground by the mob. Prosecutors say McAbee and another rioter grabbed A.W. and began to pull him down the Capitol steps. Another officer tried to save A.W, but McAbee allegedly punched the second officer repeatedly while wearing metal-knuckled gloves. McAbee then allegedly turned back to A.W., and successfully dragged him down the steps and into the crowd.
After the riot, A.W. was hospitalized and received staples in his head to stop his bleeding.
Afterward, according to prosecutors, McAbee approached the police line and tried to use his sheriff vest to get medical attention for what he believed might be a broken shoulder. “Can I get in?” McAbee allegedly asked the police. He pointed to the “Sheriff” patch on his vest and said, “I can’t go back that way, man,” according to court filings. There is no indication that he was let in.
“The fact that McAbee engaged in violent assaults of fellow law enforcement officers while he himself was a sheriff’s deputy and then attempted to use that status to obtain special treatment is powerful evidence of his lack of regard for legal authority,” prosecutors said in a recent filing.
An attorney for McAbee declined to comment to CNN about the case.
Several other members of law enforcement have previously been charged in connection with the insurrection. There are more than 575 federal defendants charged in the insurrection, which led to 140 police officers getting injured. One US Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, died from strokes one day after the incident. And four officers who responded to the Capitol that day later died by suicide.
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