The Manheim Township man accused of taking part in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was released from detention this week pending trial.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan released Michael J. Lopatic on Monday and cancelled a hearing on whether he should be freed that had been scheduled for Thursday.
Sullivan rejected prosecutors’ arguments that Lopatic should be kept in custody because he’s at risk of obstructing justice. The judge noted prosecutors had also conceded he is not accused of crime of violence as defined under bail laws, nor is the 57-year-old former Marine a flight risk.
“To be sure, the Court is alarmed by the shocking acts of violence Mr. Lopatic committed against a (Capitol police officer) ... The Court is also very troubled by two obstructive acts Mr. Lopatic undertook — stealing and then discarding an MPD officer's body worn camera,” Sullivan wrote.
However, the judge continued, those actions were not indicators for obstruction of justice.
While the judge found stealing and throwing away a D.C. Metropolitan Police officer’s body camera was relevant to the case, he said the government didn’t show that Lopatic destroyed or concealed other evidence.
Lopatic’s attorney, Dennis Boyle, said Thursday he was surprised at the judge’s decision to release him Monday, instead of having a hearing.
Lopatic, he said, was doing well and happy to be with his family, though he had not talked to him since Monday night.
A reporter went to Lopatic’s house Thursday afternoon and was told by his wife that he was not home, nor did he want to talk.
Boyle has conceded some of what Lopatic is accused of in court filings and hearings, but he said more investigation remained to be done.
“There’s a lot of mitigating factors,” he said, noting Lopatic’s military service, his ties to his community and church involvement. He’s also said the conditions that led Lopatic to go to the Capitol — referring to former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the election had been stolen — no longer apply now that Joe Biden is in office.
Lopatic must comply with release conditions, including surrendering any guns, taking medication and staying away from other defendants.
Lopatic was arrested on Feb. 3 at his home on Haskell Drive and charged with repeatedly punching one police officer in the head outside the Capitol and ripping the body camera off a second officer and later throwing it away.
No date has been set for a trial, and the government has asked the court for a 60-day delay on many of the prosecutions of Jan. 6 defendants, citing the complexity of the investigation and time required to share evidence with defense attorneys.
Judge Sullivan scheduled a status hearing for May 5 on Lopatic’s case.