WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Somerset County man was sentenced Friday to 80 months in prison on two felony charges for assaulting law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. His co-defendant, a West Virginia man, was sentenced to time served with conditions, authorities said.
Their actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election and resulted in injuries to more than 100 police officers. Both were arrested on March 14, 2021, authorities said.
Julian Elie Khater, 33, of Somerset pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia, on Sept. 1, 2022, to two counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon. Khater assaulted law enforcement officers with pepper spray, causing bodily injury to the officers.
George Pierre Tanios, 41, of Morgantown, West Virginia, provided the chemical spray to Khater. He pleaded guilty, on July 27, 2022, to two counts of disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, a misdemeanor.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas F. Hogan ordered Khater to pay restitution of $2,000, a fine of $10,000, and ordered 36 months of supervised release. Tanios was ordered to pay restitution of $500, a fine of $100, must complete 12 months of supervised release, and serve 100 hours of community service.
According to court documents, Khater and Tanios traveled together to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021. Prior to the trip, Tanios purchased two cannisters of bear spray and two cannisters of pepper spray. He provided one cannister of pepper spray to Khater prior to arriving in Washington. On Jan. 6, the two men attended a rally near the Ellipse and then headed towards the Capitol, where they joined others in a mob illegally on the grounds.
Khater then walked through the crowd to within a few steps of a bike rack barrier being used by a line of law enforcement officers attempting to secure the Capitol and its grounds. Khater stood directly across from officers. At 2:23 p.m., people in the mob began pulling on the bike rack barrier using ropes and their hands to pull the rack away. Seconds later, from less than eight feet away, Khater sprayed pepper spray from a cannister in his right hand at the officers. He first sprayed a U.S. Capitol police officer, identified in court documents as “Officer B.S.,” in the face. That officer then turned his head away and retreated from the police line.
Khater continued to deploy the spray, advancing towards another Capitol Police officer, identified in court documents as “Officer C.E.,” and spraying her directly in the eyes from only a few feet away. She dropped her head and retreated, requiring the assistance of another officer because she was unable to see. Khater then sprayed a Metropolitan Police Department officer, identified in court documents as “Officer D.C.,” directly in the face. That officer also immediately retreated from the line. All three officers suffered bodily injury from the pepper spray attack and were incapacitated and unable to perform their duties.