House Judiciary Committee Launches Investigation into Abusive Treatment of J6er at DC Gulag

The House Judiciary Committee has launched an investigation into the 2022 assault of J6er Ronald McAbee at the D.C. Central Detention Facility, better known as the D.C. Gulag.

On September 5, 2022, an altercation occurred at the facility, resulting in the discharge of chemical munitions in McAbee’s face. The incident is one among many cases of abuse against J6ers at the facility, and one that D.C. authorities appear to be working hard to cover up.

McAbee, who was a Deputy at the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office on January 6, 2021, was convicted in October of five felonies, including, “assaulting, resisting, or impeding an officer; civil disorder; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon” (reinforced knuckle gloves).

McAbee’s defenders say the deputy had tried to assist a Metro Police officer who was being besieged by protesters at the lower West Terrace Tunnel.

He also allegedly attempted to save Rosanne Boyland, one of four J6 protesters who died that day, as police were refusing to provide medical assistance to her. According to investigative reporter Julie Kelly on X, “one DC cop, Lila Morris, beat Boyland on the head as she laid lifeless on the ground,” and during the melee “McAbee also took blows to the head by police” as he attempted to help her.

The former deputy spent almost two years in the DC Gulag awaiting trial. He was sentenced to six years in prison in October.

Kelly pointed out the huge disparity between McAbee’s draconian sentence and the kid-gloves prosecutions of Pro-Hamas campus protesters have received..

“Unfortunately for McAbee and other J6ers accused of assaulting police, they did not get 48 hours of community service in deferred plea agreements that DC US Attorney Matthew Graves authorizes for Hamasurrectionists who punch cops in the face,” she wrote on X.

In a letter to Thomas Faust, Director of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) said they have “serious concerns about the Department of Correction’s (DOC) continued lack of transparency, obstruction, and unwillingness to work to provide the requested information.”

According to accounts, D.C. Department of Corrections employee Lieutenant Crystal Lancaster repeatedly sprayed McAbee with pepper spray after he removed his face mask to take medication. Lancaster has reportedly been accused of assaulting multiple other J6ers at the DC Gulag.

After he was pepper-sprayed, jail guards threw McAbee into the “hole” for hours, “denying his ability to wash the spray off his face and causing further injury,” Kelly reported on X.

In their letter to the DOC Director, Jordan and Nehls said “this use of force was not only unprompted, but may have violated the commonly used Use of Force Model used by correctional agencies.”

Since January of 2023, Nehls  a member of the Committee, has unsuccessfully attempted to obtain information and documents concerning the incident. Most notably, D.C. authorities have steadfastly refused to produce Lancaster’s body worn camera video of the assault.

On January 9, 2023, Representative Nehls submitted a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request to DOC, USMS , and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) for the relevant body camera footage of Lieutenant Lancaster’s encounter with McAbee. On January 10, 2023, MPD stated it did not have ownership of the camera footage
because Lieutenant Lancaster is not an employee of MPD.

USMS denied the FOIA request on the basis that the footage and information is in DOC custody. On January 19, 2023, DOC denied the request—despite receiving a wavier for the footage from Mr. McAbee—alleging that the release would constitute “a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy and is exempt from disclosure.”

On January 30, 2023, Representative Nehls also sent a preservation of evidence request to Mayor Bowser. On February 21, 2023, DOC notified Representative Nehls that it had decided to release the footage “in the consideration of public interest.” However, the DOC later retracted that promise, claiming there had been a “miscommunication” and that the footage would not be disclosed. On May 22, 2023, Representative Nehls appealed the FOIA decision.

According to Nehls, his FOIA request for Lieutenant Lancaster’s body camera footage is not exempt from disclosure as individuals are entitled to “full and complete information” regarding the affairs of government, as well as the acts of public officials and employees.

Nevertheless, on August 8, 2023, the denial of Representative Nehls’s FOIA request was upheld by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

During an oversight hearing of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) in February, Nehls again sought information and answers regarding the altercation. USMS Director Ronald DavisDavis responded that he would “commit my team to working with yours to see how we can be responsive to your request.”

“Unfortunately in April, USMS relayed once again that they would be unable to assist Representative Nehls in obtaining the footage despite their apparent commitment to assistance,” Jordan and Nehls wrote.

Before his conviction, McAbee had been incarcerated at the DC Gulag for about 26 of the 32 months he had been behind bars.

In an interview with the Tennessee Star, his wife, Sarah McAbee said that during her husband’s confinement, he was twice subjected to a type of punishment known as “diesel therapy,” landing him in eight different facilities.

“Diesel therapy is a form of punishment in the U.S. where they literally move you from facility to facility and your family doesn’t know where you are, your attorney doesn’t know where you are. You’re not allowed to get letters,” Sarah McAbee told the Star. “You’re not allowed to get a commissary. Most of the time you’re held in solitary confinement. He went through that twice,” she said.

“They just take you from prison to prison and you’re only there from anywhere to 48 hours to a week. I remember at one point when this was happening, he called and he was like, ‘Sarah I don’t know what day or what time it is.’ And this had been a week at this point,” McAbee added.

McAbee said her husband did not receive a fair trial, telling the Star that the prosecution “lied” in court, “met with witnesses before their testimony and sent evidence to the deliberation room for members of the jury.”

She also told the Star she is concerned for her husband’s safety in prison given his former profession in law enforcement. “Him being a cop is a concern because inmates don’t like police officers,” she explained.

Sarah McAbee joined independent journalist Emerald Robinson three days after the pepper spray attack to discuss the abusive treatment of her husband at the DC Gulag.

Jordan and Nehls said in their letter that the alleged abusive treatment of McAbee belies the DOC’s claim to provide for an “orderly, safe, secure and humane environment.”

“Any allegation of the mistreatment of a federal detainee should be taken seriously and fully investigated,” they wrote.

“The DOC’s repeated attempts to prevent a Member of Congress from obtaining the body camera footage hinders Congress’s ability to conduct oversight and to adequately assess whether the DOC has failed to hold officers accountable for their alleged misconduct,” the lawmakers added.

They are demanding that  the D.C. Department of Corrections release Lt. Crystal Lancaster’s body camera footage on September 5, 2022, from
the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., as well as documents and communications referring or relating to Representative Nehls’s request to obtain the body camera footage.

They also requested “all documents and communications referring or relating to the investigation of the incident” and “information regarding any disciplinary proceedings or actions taken against Lieutenant Crystal Lancaster during her tenure at DOC.”

Jordan and Nehls requested the information as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 p.m. on May 27, 2024, and warned that the Judiciary Committee “may be forced to resort to compulsory process if these requests remain outstanding.”

Editor’s note: Only four protesters died on January 6, not five, as initially reported.







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About Debra Heine

Debra Heine is a conservative Catholic mom of six and longtime political pundit. She has written for several conservative news websites over the years, including Breitbart and PJ Media.

Photo: WASHINGTON, DC- JAN 05: A view of the DC Central Detention Facility (aka the DC Jail) in Washington, D.C. on January 05, 2023. The night before the second anniversary of the 1/6 insurrection, supporters of jailed Capitol rioters rallied at the jail. Protestors refer to the jail as a Gulag and label those they support as political prisoners. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Notable Replies

  1. Great reporting here and thanks for keeping J6 political prisoners front and center. I can never forgive the Republican Party for its complicity in J6 atrocities and resulting imprisonment and denial of constitutional rights for so many American citizens. Of course the answer to forcing compliance is simple and that is why it will never happen: deny funding to DC Corrections, National Capital Police and DC government. Not. One. Penny.

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