US judge orders mental evaluation of Capitol riot’s ‘QAnon Shaman’

Capitol Riots

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — A federal judge on Friday ordered a mental health assessment for Jacob Chansley, the man nicknamed the “QAnon Shaman” who was widely photographed wearing a horned headdress inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth said he determined that a “competency examination” of Chansley was warranted and ordered that a “psychological examination be conducted.” The judge said the examination should include an assessment as to whether Chansley cannot understand the criminal charges against him or assist in his own defense.

Chansley, of Arizona, currently faces six federal charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct.

He was among hundreds of people who stormed the Capitol after Trump gave a fiery speech repeating his claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. The mob interrupted the formal congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory and the riot left five people dead.

Lamberth’s order said that Chansley should be committed to the custody of the U.S. attorney general for “placement in a suitable facility for a competency examination” by one or more psychiatrists or psychologists.

Chansley’s lawyer, Albert Watkins, said that his client needs healthcare. Watkins said that although Chansley was one of the most recognizable participants in the riot thanks to his headdress, face paint and extensive tattoos, he was not dangerous.

“He was not violent. He did not assault. He did not steal or destroy while he was in the Capitol,” Watkins said.

Chansley, a Navy veteran, was a follower of QAnon.

Being found incompetent can potentially spare a defendant from being prosecuted. However, such a finding also would require the court to commit the person to a hospital in federal prison for treatment to try to restore competency.

If a person’s competency cannot be restored and he or she cannot stand trial, there is still a chance the government could keep the defendant detained if he or she is deemed to pose a danger to the public.

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