A cardiothoracic anesthesiologist is facing federal charges in relation to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol after he was seen on social media footage “kneeling beside the woman shot inside,” an unsealed federal complaint states.
The legal filing, made public on Tuesday, was seemingly referencing Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt who was shot by police and died of her injuries. She was shot by a Capitol Police lieutenant attempting to stop the rioters from getting through a door on the way to the lobby of the chamber of the House of Representatives.
Austin Brendlen Harris, a board-certified cardiothoracic anesthesiologist running a ketamine infusion clinic in the Sherman Oaks neighbourhood of Los Angeles, is now facing charges for his alleged participation in the siege of the Capitol, The Daily Beast reported.
He was seen in security footage inside the congressional building, and he compared the police to Nazis, the federal complaint states.
“Law enforcement confirmed Harris as the individual observed in the surveillance videos through state driver’s license and Facebook profile comparisons,” the legal filing says. “Surveillance videos and body worn cameras confirm Harris was present at the U.S. Capitol and inside the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021. At approximately 2:00 pm that day, Harris was in the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol Building next to the inauguration rafters. He can be overheard comparing the officers to Nazis.”
Dr Harris was wearing a hat on the day which said “Lions Not Sheep”.
“Harris subsequently moved to the Upper West Terrace, overlooking a wall where rioters are climbing. In addition to filming with his phone, Harris can be seen briefly encouraging rioters to come up and join them,” the complaint adds.
The FBI’s National Threat Operations Center “received a tip identifying the tipster’s former friend, Dr. Austin Harris, phone number ... as having entered the U.S. Capitol building. According to the tipster ... Harris posted on his Facebook page about the Capitol riot, including video of Harris kneeling beside the woman shot inside,” the complaint states.
“The FBI received a second tip where the tipster ... submitted a screenshot of a different post on Harris’ Facebook page,” the filings says.
“Thank you all for your concern. I am safe here in DC. Was treating trauma patients at the capitol building,” Dr Harris wrote on Facebook. He went on to falsely claim that the insurrection was a “false flag event” by “Antifa dressed up like Trump supporters,” intent on creating “even more oppression of conservatives”.
In 2021, state medical authorities took action against Dr Harris for several DUIs and erratic work behaviour, The Daily Beast noted.
The complaint adds that on 27 December 2020, Dr Harris asked for information about DC hotels around January 6 on Parler, the rightwing social media platform.
“Does anyone know which hotels in DC the Trump supporters will be staying at for the DC rally Jan 6th? I want to be with the MAGA crowd, not accidentally mixed in with the ‘wrong’ protesters [wink emoji],” he wrote, according to the legal filing.
Dr Harris was seen entering the Capitol at 2.15pm, appearing to “engage in a verbal confrontation with officers” within a minute of entering the building.
Law enforcement “interviewed two people who personally knew Harris for many years. Both individuals were shown photographs of Harris at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Two interviewees stated that photos of Harris in the U.S. Capitol building looked like Harris,” the legal filing states, adding that Dr Harris was found to have “traveled to Washington, D.C. On January 5, 2021, Harris flew from LAX to BWI via Spirit Airlines. He returned to Los Angeles on January 7, 2021 via Alaska Airlines”.
While Dr Harris is the first known anesthesiologist to face charges after the attack on the Capitol, at least two other medical doctors were seen there that day, as well as two chiropractors,” The Daily Beast noted.
More than half of the insurrections were white-collar workers, WBUR found.
Dr Harris doesn’t have a lawyer listed in court records to speak on his behalf.