The Proud Boys defendant accused of breaking open the window that rioters first used to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, told a federal jury this week that he wanted to take responsibility for his actions but also blamed police officers for agitating the crowd that day.
Dominic Pezzola, who testified this week in the months-long trial against himself and four other members of the far-right Proud Boys charged with conspiring to stop Joe Biden from becoming president, told the jury he acted alone and there was no conspiracy with the other defendants.
All five defendants have pleaded not guilty.
“I’m taking the stand today to take responsibility for my actions on January 6,” Pezzola testified Tuesday, “and I’m also taking the stand to explain how these men over here that I’m indicted with should not be roped into my actions, and to also explain how there was no conspiracy.”
As he continued to testify Wednesday, Pezzola’s story shifted toward blaming police for stirring the crowd by shooting at them with rubber bullets and using flash bangs against the mob as they neared the Capitol entrance.
Pezzola testified he took a police riot shield but only to protect himself from the spray of pepper balls and rubber bullets. It was with this shield that Pezzola later broke open the window to the building.
“My only intention was to protect myself,” he said of taking the shield. “It almost felt like being under sniper fire.”
Pressed by his attorney on why he didn’t turn around and leave the area, Pezzola said that as an ex-Marine, he was conditioned to never run away.
“You’re conditioned to not even think about flight response,” he told the jury. “I guess I’m just programmed to run toward danger.”
On breaking the window, Pezzola testified he was “caught up in the confusion” adding that “it was stupid” and said he was sorry.
While in the Capitol, Pezzola lit a cigar and took a video.
“Victory smoke in the Capitol, boys,” Pezzola said, according to the video. “I knew we could take this motherf**ker over [if we] just tried hard enough. Proud of your motherf**king boy.”