Stephen Horn Journalism
News • Politics • Writing
Court Documents Reveal Identity of Officer Who Shoved Trump Supporter Off Staircase
March 13, 2023
post photo preview

On January 6th, Derrick Vargo was severely injured when he was pushed off a ledge on the West side of the Capitol. Vargo was climbing up the outside of the railing with a flag as Capitol Police officers attempted to hold the landing mid-way up the North West staircase. Video shows Vargo turning around to retreat just before a Capitol Police officer in a blue motorcycle helmet and a black mask reaches out and pushes Vargo off the staircase. Vargo was carried off from the scene unresponsive.

Court documents released last month reveal the identity of the masked Capitol Police Officer as Bryant Williams. Although many of these facts were brought to my attention by a confidential source, they are verifiable via publicly available material. I am sharing this information because I believe in accountability.

United States v. RAMEY

Officer Williams was named as a victim in the government's case against Barry Bennet Ramey. Ramey was accused of spraying two officers including Williams with a chemical agent. Although Ramey was found guilty of charges including obstruction and violence, he was found not guilty of using a "deadly or dangerous weapon" in the commission of those crimes. Besides Officer Williams' testimony in the case describing his location and appearance, we also have a labeled screenshot from the government's post-trial brief:

From the United States's Post-Trial Brief, p.6

Following the Trail

Officer Williams is first seen at the foot of this staircase around 1:00 pm, shortly after rioters had overrun the police line at the perimeter of Capitol Grounds.

Still from video published by ABQ RAW showing Officer Williams at the foot of the NW staircase ~1 pm [1]

1:00 - 1:48 pm - foot of the NW staircase

As reinforcements arrive, the Capitol Police are able to re-stabilize a line across the lower plaza, between the two massive staircases leading up to the West Terrace. On January 6th, the staircases had been covered with scaffolding in preparation for the inauguration. Although there were officers like Williams guarding the entrance to the North West staircase, they were somewhat cut off from the more heavily armored officers in riot gear to the South, across the plaza, and to the North, across the lawn.

During this period, between 1:00 pm and 1:48 pm, the police are actually able to slowly push their line forward. They also begin deploying flashbangs into the crowd at approximately 1:20 pm (including setting a man on fire and all that fun stuff).

1:48 pm - foot of the NW staircase

Although the police have been able to more than hold their own on this side of the Capitol for nearly an hour, an incident at 1:48 pm involving Officer Williams is going to turn the tide against them. This is the first of a series of events on the North West staircase which will end up with the police abandoning the staircase, allowing rioters to outflank the main police line and breach undefended entrances like the Senate Wing Door, which will be the first entry into the actual Capitol Building.

The incident appears to start with an unidentified man in a grey hoodie referred to as "#lemongrey" by the "Sedition Hunters". As far as I can tell from the video, it is Officer Williams who initiates the scuffle by shoving #lemongrey as he turns to walk away. However, it quickly turns into a general assault and the police retreat up the staircase. Ramey was found guilty of assault for his use of a chemical spray at this time.

From the United States's Post-Trial Brief, p.6

1:48 pm - 2:02 pm - returning to duty on the NW staircase

According to Officer Williams' testimony in the Ramey trial, he was incapacitated by the chemical spray, and even collapsed due to the burning in his face. Before he had a chance to receive decontamination, he headed back over to defend the NW staircase (referred to as the "Senate stairs"). Williams also testified that "everything started getting kind of blurry", and that he is still suffering vision impairment from the incident.

Screenshots from Young Kim/RMG NEWS show Williams on the landing of the NW staircase

14:02 pm - Derrick Vargo

The police have retreated up to a landing on the middle of the staircase, and are attempting to hold the line. At this point, one Trump supporter named Derrick Vargo begins climbing up the outside of the railing on the staircase.

, he just wanted to hang his flag up where people could see it (take that with as many grains of salt as you feel appropriate.) After officers attempt to strike, spray, and grab Vargo, he turns around and begins heading back towards the bottom of the staircase. Just then, the video shows Officer Williams stepping forward and pushing Vargo off the staircase. I encourage anyone interested to watch
as they can before coming to their own conclusion.

screenshot from security camera

The aftermath

When Vargo hits the ground, there is an immediate reaction in the crowd below, as many witnessed the incident and believe the police officer is responsible. Shortly after Vargo is carried off on a bicycle rack used as an improvised stretcher, members of the crowd below the staircase begin throwing objects at the police on the landing. Under assault from two directions, these police retreat.

Although the police do briefly attempt to hold a line of fencing at the top of the staircase, they quickly scatter, giving the rioters unimpeded access to the West Terrace. Some quickly make their way over to the Senate Wing Door and break in through the windows, marking the first breach into the Capitol Building on January 6th.

One of the facts I find astonishing is that, despite the presence of Deputy Chief Eric Waldow on this staircase during this critical 20+ minute period, none of the heavily armored police on the plaza below appear to be sent to reinforce the beleaguered police on the NW staircase. Instead, the unit of armored Metropolitan Police which arrives during this period marches right past the foot of the staircase to join the main police line on the plaza.

For questions, comments, or correction, I am available for contact via Twitter or email


community logo
Join the Stephen Horn Journalism Community
To read more articles like this, sign up and join my community today
What else you may like…
EXCLUSIVE: Bodycam video shows Raleigh Police crackdown on 1st Reopen NC protest (04/14/2020)

BREAKING: Exclusively obtained bodycam video shows behind-the-scenes of the police action against the first Reopen NC protest back in April of 2020

Raleigh Police would infamously declare that "protesting is a non-essential activity" when questioned by the public about the event

VIDEO: How Did the QAnon Shaman Make It into the Capitol?

Last night, Tucker Carlson highlighted how Jacob Chansley aka the QAnon Shaman was treated by the police inside the Capitol.

What I have been researching and putting together since 2021 is how the police defense on the West Side of the Capitol failed, allowing rioters to breach the unguarded Senate Wing Door and people like Jacob Chansley to "peacefully" or nonviolently enter the Capitol with no police present to stop or warn them.

On January 6th, the police response was inconsistent and poorly coordinated. That's why you could have police outside setting people on fire with flashbangs and police inside escorting Jacob Chansley around.

I'm working to get a documentary out soon explaining the series of events from the perimeter of Capitol Grounds which led to the complete collapse of the Capitol defenses and the first breach of the Capitol Building at the Senate Wing Door.

The video below is a brief summary, but if y'all want to be notified when the documentary goes live, follow me ...

Lynn Bernstein: NC Election Integrity Advocate (protest @ Wake County BoE)

Lynn Bernstein is an election integrity advocate and founder of Transparent Elections NC. She's also a Democrat. I caught up with her at a protest she organized outside the Wake County Board of Elections on election night.

You can hear about why Bernstein is protesting in Wake County, as well as how she got into election integrity, how the local media coverage of the subject has changed, and, perhaps most importantly, a civil rights case Bernstein is bringing against the Wake County Election Manager after she was trespassed from Wake County Board of Elections property and prevented from participating in observation or participation in public comment at meetings held at the board headquarters.

In the News: Footage shows police planning arrests of protesters at 2020 ReOpen NC event

A.P. Dillon w/ North State Journal reports on the video I released last week from the "Protesting is a non-essential activity" police action by the Raleigh Police Department in April, 2020

This week, I interviewed Kara Lynne, a local woman who was fired from her job at Limited Run Games in Apex, NC after becoming the target of a cancellation campaign on Twitter

I'm a bit surprised that a story which has made it all the way to Tucker Carlson and the Daily Mail doesn't appear to have been covered at all in the local MSM

Y'all gotta follow/subscribe to get local reporting on stories like this in the Triangle

From this week's issue of This Week in the Triangle, here's the interview (edited for length and clarity):

This Week in the Triangle: Were you given a specific reason by your bosses when they gave you that call to terminate your employment?

Kara Lynne: I really don't think it was like a specific reason. I think it was more along the lines of the negative publicity that the tweets that were being directed at the company were getting.

TWitT: Can you explain a little about the Limited Run Games business and your role was as a community manager?

KL: Limited Run Games is a video game publisher ...

EXCLUSIVE: Two Brought Up on "Disloyalty" Charges by Wake GOP

post photo preview
CONFIRMED: Undercover MPD Employee(s) Acted as Agent Provocateurs on January 6th

Since January 6th, many citizens have wondered if any of the numerous unarrested individuals caught on camera were federal agents/informants. I've been particularly curious about the Metropolitan Police "Undercover Employees" (MPD UCE) in the crowd. The first admission I'd seen by the federal government that any sort of undercover agents were present was in a criminal complaint filed against Fi Duong in June of 2021. Now, those specific undercover employees are back in the spotlight with a viral Twitter thread by another J6 defendant, William Pope. Pope included descriptions of several scenes from a video in which MPD UCEs join in crowd chants and encourage people to move towards the Capitol. In reviewing material for my own J6 case, I have been able to watch the video in question, and can confirm that Pope's claims regarding the MPD UCEs' actions/statements are largely accurate.

Undercover MPD referenced as "Officer 2" and "Officer 3" in the Pope Filing (source)

United States v. DUONG

On the morning of January 6th, a Virginia man named Fi Duong met an Metropolitan Police Undercover Employee near the Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. Duong must have exchanged contact information with the MPD UCE, as he used the opportunity to introduce Duong to an undercover FBI agent. The FBI agent proceeded to inflitrate a sort of "gun club" which Duong was a member of. The agent was not able to entice Duong himself into any criminal activity (Duong was only charged with J6 related offenses), but the agent was able get another member of the group, Adam MacLaury, charged with firearm related offenses. However, the focus of this article is the actions of the MPD UCE referenced in these two paragraphs:

Excerpt from the Criminal Complaint/Statement of Facts against Fi Duong


MPD "Electronic Surveillance Unit"

As reported by Patricia Tolson in The Epoch Times, the Metropolitan Police Department had undercover/plainclothes employees in the crowd on January 6th to “document the actions of the demonstrators and MPD’s response to any civil disobedience or criminal activity.” It is my understanding that the video referenced in the Pope filing is one of the videos recorded by the Electronic Surveillance Unit, and kept as "sensitive" material in the January 6th evidence archive provided to defendants as Brady material. The video cannot currently be made public, as defendants are required to sign a protective order preventing certain "sensitive" or "highly sensitive" material from being disclosed.

The Pope Filing

In November 2022, William Pope included the following claims as part of a motion to compel the government to give him more access to discovery:

Below is an abbreviated description of the conversations and actions depicted in this undercover officer’s footage:
As three undercover MPD officers approach the NW corner of the Capitol groundsaround approximately 1:40 p.m., Officer 1 (filming) joins the crowd in chanting “drain the swamp.Near the NW walkway the three undercover officers see men running towards the Capitol. Officer 2, who is wearing black overalls, a black hoodie, a black bandana, and a red Trump beanie, remarks, “those guys are getting shot.” Shortly after this, Officer 2 says, “I’m going to follow this from a distance.As they walk forward, Officer 2 says, this is amazing!Officer 1 responds, Yeah, I’ve never seen anything like this.” Officer 2 then changes their direction and the three undercover officers head towards the Northwest Scaffolding. Near the scaffolding a man asks them, “is Trump still walking here?” Officer 2 remarks, “honestly I don’t think he can walk that far, let’s be honest, he’s long winded though that’s for sure.”
When protestors reach the top of the stairs and scaffolding, the three undercover officers move forward. Officer 3, a clean shaven white male who is wearing a blue jacket and grey beanie, yells “holy shit!” Officer 2 then reiterates his belief that someone will get shot. With awink and a nudge, Officer 3 asks Officer 2 if he wants to go up there too. Officer 2 smiles andsays, “I’ll be honest with you, kinda.” Officer 1 says “yeah” and taps them to move forward as Officer 2 laughs about it. When Officer 1 asks the other officers which way they want to go,Officer 2 suggests going up the stairs with protestors. Near the base of the stairs Officer 1 joins the crowd in chanting Whose house? Our house!
Officer 1 begins yelling at people in front of him to “Go, go, go!” As they climb bicycle racks, Officer 1 yells for the crowd to help him up, help him up! followed by “push him up, push him up!” Officer 1 also pushes others in front of him to get them to advance on the Capitol, and he yells “cmon, cmon, cmon, let’s go!” as those around him climb the bike racks and scaffolding. Needing help to get up, Officer 1 asks a nearby man to give him a boost. The man gives Officer 1 a lift up, and Offer 1 says “thanks bro.” As Officer 1 advances up the stairs, he continues to urge the crowd onward, yelling “cmon, go, go, go!,” followed shortly by “keep going, keep going!” These phrases are repeated as the undercover officer moves forward with the crowd. At one point, Officer 1 encounters a woman trying to go back down the steps and he discourages her from attempting it. Near the middle of the steps, Officer 1 encounters a man he recognizes wearing a blue jacket and what appears to be swim goggles and a white gargoyle mask with gold teeth. Officer 1 greets the manas “Tim,” and the plain clothes Tim responds, “what’s going on bro?”
This video clearly evidences undercover law enforcement officers urging the crowds to advance up the stairs and scaffolding towards the Capitol on January 6. The government may claim that incidents like this did not happen, but the facts show they did. Since the government cannot be trusted to disclose these facts, it becomes even more important that defense teams, including Pro Se defendants, be able to directly examine the evidence.

Although I have reviewed the full video which Pope is referencing, I will refrain from an in depth fact check or contextualization of each quote, since I am unclear whether that would be a violation of the protective order I have signed. I will note two "corrections":

  1. As the Epoch Times article notes, I'm not sure whether the members of the "Electronic Surveillance Unit" are techinically officers. The individual who encountered Fi Duong is referred to as an "Metropolitan Police Department Undercover Employees" in the Duong and MacLaury filings.
  2. I have been able to confirm that the individual referred to as "Tim" in the Pope filing is in fact J6 defendant Fi Duong, not another undercover agent


I believe the video referenced by Pope constitutes perhaps more real and confirmed evidence of federal agents/employees acting as "agent provocateur" than any other claims of the sort which have been made since January 6th, including Ray Epps. Unfortunately, we still seem to be a long ways from the public or even members of the media being able to review the evidence to determine what role the actions of the undercover government actors had in how January 6th played out.

Read full Article
post photo preview
DOJ confirms inflammatory statements by undercover officers on J6
Undercover MPD Officer encouraged people bypassing police line to "Go! Go! Go!" and "Keep it going!"

UPDATE: an unknown party has released selections of the video in question, which is embedded at the bottom of this article (backup here)

We now have confirmation from the Department of Justice about some of the questionable statements made by undercover officers on January 6th. As I reported last month, undercover officers in the Metropolitan Police's (MPD) Electronic Surveilance Unit (ESU) deployed at the Capitol on January 6th captured themselves making concerning statements. These statements include at least one of the officers encouraging members of the crowd to utilize a staircase to bypass the police line.

The DOJ has confirmed some of these statements in a filing today:

...GoPro video recorded by an MPD Police Officer who was stationed at the Capitol in an evidence-gathering capacity, captures the officer shouting words to the effect of “Go! Go! Go!” (MPD-005-000035 at time stamp 2:37), “Go! Go! Go!” (MPD-005-000035 at time stamp 7:23), and “Keeping going! Keep going!” (MPD-005-000035 at time stamp 8:16) apparently to the individuals in front of him on the
balustrade of the U.S. Capitol’s northwest staircase around 2:15 p.m. At other times in these videos, the officer and the two other plain clothes officers with him appear to join the crowd around them in various chants, to include “drain the swamp,” “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”, and “whose house? Our house!”

These revelations are part of a dispute between the DOJ and pro-se defendant William Pope regarding discovery. Pope originally included the quotes from the undercover officer as part of an argument that statements made to him by a U.S. Attorney were inaccurate or based on incomplete information. Pope quoted the following claim from the government:

We are not aware of individuals encouraging people on January 6 to move towards or into the Capitol, or to do things that have been charged as crimes who were doing so on behalf of any U.S. local, state, or federal government agency ororganization. (November 11, 2022 email from Mr. Crawford)

As the now confirmed quotes show, at least one of the officers was "encouraging move towards...the Capitol". And more than that: the statements made by the undercover officer: "Go! Go! Go!" and "Keep going! Keep going!" were made at a critical location and time.

At around 2:15pm, the main body of police in riot gear on the West Side of the Capitol were still deployed in a line across the West Plaza between the NW and SW staircases. The people who would have heard the officer from the foot of the NW staircase were able to use that set of stairs to bypass that main police force, and gain access to multiple unguarded entrances on the Upper Terrace. Just minutes before, the police on the staircase had retreated after a series of reverses including the aftermath of pushing Derrick Vargo off a ledge.

People who climbed up this NW staircase include the rioters who initiated the first breach of the Capitol by smashing the windows by the Senate Wing Door just minutes earlier. See this tweet thread for some of the key events which occurred on this same staircase, leading the breach of the Capitol. 


Read full Article
Opinion: GOP Anti-Riot Bill is Dangerous Virtue Signaling
At it's best, HB40 is ineffective; at it's worst, it will be another weapon in the hand of petty tyrants

It’s not in dispute: rioting is bad. As a journalist, I did on-the-ground coverage at a handful of 2020/2021 riots or “civil disorders” in the Raleigh/Durham area. From my experience, I believe the "anti-riot" bill on track to make it into NC law is more likely to be used against peaceful demonstrators or political dissidents than it is to be used against the type of violent left wing extremists which plagued our streets.

The Bill

Although a similar bill passed in 2021 was vetoed by Gov. Cooper, this year’s HB40 appears to have enough Democratic support to override a veto. While the bill’s short title, to “Prevent Rioting and Civil Disorder” may accurately describe the legislators’ intent, I do not believe the bill will have that effect in practice.

I don’t have an inherent issue with whether a particular riot related offense is a Class E or a Class F felony, and I think it’s probably good for the victims of a riot to be able to recover compensation. Where I primarily take issue with this bill is on two fronts: a) the framing of the bill as a response to the 2020 riots, and b) how/whether the increased penalties will be applied. Fundamentally, increasing the punishment for a particular crime will not have a deterrence effect if the people violating the already existing laws are not being charged.

My Experience: Police did not arrest rioters

For instance, one of the first riots I documented in person was on August 28, 2020 in downtown Raleigh. The police didn’t appear to be in the vicinity as I witnessed rioters removing barricades and assaulting a WRAL news crew. Though I didn’t personally get a good look, it was also reported that rioters smashed windows on the Wake County Justice Center and vandalized a memorial to fallen deputies.

If you read the WRAL headline, “14 arrested”, you might be satisfied that some justice was served for this riotous behavior. In fact, 13 of those arrests were for curfew violation, and the last was for assaulting a police officer. Not one of those arrests was for inciting the riot, removing barricades, assaulting media, or damaging government property.

Another example: a riot I documented in Durham on the night of April 16, 2021. The event started as an anti-police/anti-prison march which began near the Durham County Jail. As the night progressed, anarchists in black bloc set off fireworks and vandalized businesses, bus stops, and even the sign of the police headquarters. The only law enforcement presence I recall was a police car or two trailing the protest from a distance. As far as I can tell, no one was arrested for this criminal behavior.

I’ll make the same point as 2nd amendment activists whenever a new gun regulation is proposed: if the current laws aren’t being enforced, what good is a new law?


Unlike many countries around the world, the United States has a fairly decentralized law enforcement system. Here in North Carolina each local law enforcement department, whether it’s the Raleigh Police or the Durham Police, the Wake County Sheriff's Office or the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, reports to elected officials at the respective city or county level. The district attorneys, responsible for prosecuting crimes on behalf of the state of North Carolina, are elected directly by the citizens. While HB40 gives these local jurisdictions a heavier hammer in their toolbelt, it’s useless if they are unwilling or unable to wield it against the people inciting or engaging in riotous behavior. If we are holding the state legislature accountable for local political decisions, like riot response, we will often end up with laws that are ineffective at best.

Conclusion: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

THE GOOD: I am a bit intrigued by the order for the NC Department of Justice to consult and create “model policies” for police protest response. The legislature could potentially leverage this into an effective influence on local policies by giving victims of a riot the ability to sue their local jurisdiction if “model policies” were not followed.

THE BAD: I don’t believe this law will be effective in deterring the type of radical leftist activists at the heart of many of the local riots in 2020. While this type of law may be popular with the Republican electorate, it could lull citizens into a false sense of security instead of seeking effective change at the local level.

THE UGLY: In the worse case scenario, these increased penalties could end up being misapplied when the subjects are politically unsavory to whatever jurisdiction they are in, whether it’s BLM protesters in a rural town or right-leaning protesters who come from across the state to make their voices heard the at the state capital, Raleigh. Though I don’t entirely understand how the section on pretrial release differs from the current practice, I strongly believe in the legal concept of “innocent until proven guilty,” and I’m inherently skeptical any law which imposes a punishment before or in the absence of any type of conviction.

Read full Article
See More
Available on mobile and TV devices
google store google store app store app store
google store google store app tv store app tv store amazon store amazon store roku store roku store
Powered by Locals