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A Texas man who previously worked for Alex Jones’s website Infowars has been sentenced to four months of home detention and 60 hours of community service after he filmed the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Samuel Montoya, 37, was employed as a video editor for Infowars when he joined other demonstrators in the Capitol on Jan. 6 as the joint session of Congress was certifying the 2020 presidential election results.
According to court documents (pdf), the FBI received a tip to the National Threat Operations Center from a family member of Montoya just a week after the breach. The relative claimed to have proof that the video editor was physically inside the U.S. Capitol near 35-year-old Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot outside the Speaker’s Lobby.
The family member told the FBI that Montoya had captured on camera the moment when Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd fatally shot Babbitt, and that the Infowars employee had shown his relatives the footage.
According to prosecutors, while filming inside the Capitol, Montoya recorded himself making various statements, such as “We’re gonna crawl, we’re gonna climb. We’re gonna do whatever it takes” and “I don’t even know what’s going on right now. I don’t wanna get shot, I’ll be honest, but I don’t wanna lose my country. And that’s more important to me than—than getting shot.”
At times during the footage, Montoya can be heard describing himself to others inside the Capitol Building as a “reporter” or “journalist,” police said.
Montoya Shares Video Footage of Babbitt’s Death
However, officials said that the director of the congressional press galleries within the Senate Press Office checked to confirm if Montoya had congressional press credentials as an individual or via any other organizations and that he did not.
Montoya later shared the footage of Babbitt being shot in a 44-minute video online titled “Patriots Storm Congress Raw Footage Includes Execution of Ashli Babbitt.” He also appeared on the Infowars show “War Room with Owen Shroyer,” where he provided his eyewitness account of the breach and Babbitt’s death.
The officer who shot Babbitt was cleared of wrongdoing by both federal prosecutors and Capitol Police.
Montoya was arrested in April 2021 and prosecutors initially considered charging him with one count of entering and remaining in a restricted building, one count of disorderly and disruptive conduct in a Capitol Building, one count of impeding passage through the Capitol Grounds or buildings, and one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol Building.
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He pleaded guilty to just one count, the latter, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison, in November.
Prosecutors recommended sentencing Montoya to 45 days of imprisonment but U.S. District Judge John Bates on Wednesday instead sentenced him to three years of probation, including 120 days of home detention and 60 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay a $1,500 fine plus $500 in restitution.
‘He Was a Participant’
Prior to his sentencing, Montoya referred to himself as “a member of the media” and said he regrets his “approach to filming and reporting on the events that day.”
“Nothing like what happened at the Capitol that day should ever take place again,” Montoya said. “I truly hope my apology offers a bit of closure to my fellow countrymen as we recover and heal together.”
However, U.S. District Judge John Bates said Montoya “doesn’t get a free pass … just because he considered himself a journalist,” adding that it was a “close call” in deciding to spare him from incarceration.
“He was more than just a reporter,” the judge said. “He was not just an observer. He was a participant.”
Infowars founder and host Alex Jones told prosecutors that he had told Montoya to stay in Texas to work on the site’s broadcasts while Jones and others went to Washington, D.C. for the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6.
“Jones said that Montoya went to D.C. on his own and that Jones had instructed his staff not to go inside the U.S. Capitol,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexis Loeb wrote in a court filing.
Montoya was hired by Infowars in 2018 but was laid off in November when the company filed for bankruptcy after Jones was ordered to pay about $1.5 billion for his comments about the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting, according to his attorney.
The Epoch Times has contacted Montoya’s lawyer for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Article cross-posted from our premium news partners at The Epoch Times.
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