US prosecutors seek to dismiss first Capitol riot case
© Wikimedia (Tyler Merbler)
US prosecutors seek to dismiss first Capitol riot case

Federal prosecutors filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss a criminal case against Christopher Kelly, a New York man accused of participating in the Capitol riot on January 6. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged more than 450 people for participating in the riot, and Kelly’s case is the first the DOJ has moved to dismiss.

The motion to dismiss was unopposed, and prosecutors discussed the merits of the case with Kelly’s lawyers. A federal prosecutor explained that, “upon reflection of the facts currently known to the government, the government believes dismissal … serves the interest of justice.” The case was dismissed without prejudice, so the DOJ may revive the case in the future.

Kelly was arrested on January 20 and charged with “obstructing an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, violent entry and disorderly conduct, and unlawful entry to restricted buildings or grounds.”

A paid confidential informant provided the FBI with screenshots of chats from Kelly’s Facebook Messenger. In the messages, Kelly stated that he planned to be at the Capitol for the riot. Another message from Kelly dated January 6 states, “we’re in!” Kelly sent photos of himself outside of the Capitol to other Facebook users. In charging documents, an FBI agent stated, “I believe the messages and image … reflect that Chris Kelly was using this account to inform associates that he had breached the Capitol and was inside.”

Court documents include photos of Kelly on the grounds of the Capitol, but they do not include a photo of Kelly inside the building. Whereas other cases may include cellphone data indicating that the defendants’ phone was inside the Capitol, this case does not include such data. “Since he was not inside, in the interest of the investigation, the charges were dropped,” an official stated.