Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live


Carlsbad man pleads guilty to assaulting officers at Capitol on Jan. 6

Police body-worn camera footage of James Burton McGrew of Carlsbad storming the U.s. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.<br/>
Department of Justice
Police body-worn camera footage of James Burton McGrew of Carlsbad storming the U.s. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

A Carlsbad man pleaded guilty Friday to assaulting multiple police officers during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

James Burton McGrew, 40, admitted to joining in a mob of people who overtook police officers guarding the Capitol, then later attacking officers during a series of altercations. He is set to be sentenced in August when he faces a maximum of eight years in prison for his plea to a count of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, McGrew and other rioters advanced to the Upper West Terrace doors to the Capitol building, where he filmed himself shouting "Let's go," and "We took this thing."


After entering the building, prosecutors say he pushed one officer and struck another.

According to court documents, one officer told McGrew, "Just leave, just leave man, come on," to which he responded by screaming, "You leave. You leave. This is our house."

When an officer used a baton to push McGrew and others to the exit, McGrew struck that officer and lunged for the baton, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

The crowd was eventually pushed out of the Rotunda by officers, but 45 minutes later, McGrew joined a group of rioters at the Lower West Terrace tunnel entrance to the Capitol building.

Prosecutors allege another rioter handed McGrew a wooden handrail with metal brackets attached, which he threw into the tunnel, where it struck an officer in the shield or visor.


McGrew was arrested in May of last year in Arizona.

The Department of Justice says more than 800 people have been arrested in connection with the Capitol breach, including more than 250 charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

Along with McGrew, two other San Diego County residents were prosecuted for their roles in the breach.

Jeffrey Alexander Smith, a Coronado resident at the time, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three months in prison, while Philip James Weisbecker, then of Ocean Beach, pleaded guilty and is slated to be sentenced next month.

Another San Diego resident, 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, was fatally shot by a U.S. Capitol police officer while she attempted to climb through a broken window to the Speaker's Lobby.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.