'Second Class Citizenship': Jan. 6 Defendant 'Lectern Guy' on His Former Fed Prosecutor's Road Rage Trial

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Former U.S. prosecutor Patrick Douglas Scruggs from Tampa, known for his involvement in indicting Florida residents linked to the January 6 Capitol riots, is now facing trial himself. The 38-year-old is set for a pre-trial hearing at the Pinellas County Justice Center on May 3. Scruggs faces charges of armed burglary, aggravated battery, and aggravated assault. These charges stem from an alleged road rage incident where Scruggs is accused of stabbing a 35-year-old man with a pocket knife last year. 

On September 26, Mr. Scruggs was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol after allegedly stabbing another motorist following a crash on the Howard Frankland Bridge in Tampa. The incident unfolded when a Florida couple, driving on Interstate 275, stopped to assist a driver who appeared to be slumped behind the wheel of a vehicle on the bridge around 9:24 a.m. The slumped driver suddenly woke up, accelerated forward, and crashed into the couple’s sedan. Afterward, the driver shifted into reverse in an attempt to maneuver around the couple’s car but ended up hitting Scruggs’ vehicle.

According to the police, Scruggs then pulled over, approached the driver’s car, broke the driver’s window after punching it several times, and then stabbed the driver with a pocketknife. When the couple tried to help the stabbing victim, Scruggs allegedly attempted to stab them as well before they managed to escape. 

A St. Petersburg Police Department officer who witnessed the altercation as he was driving by the incident arrested Scruggs. The victim was taken to a local hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The violent incident was caught on camera and the video footage has circulated on social media. 

After posting a $65,000 bail, Scruggs was released from jail while waiting for his trial, a circumstance not afforded to many Capitol riot defendants, even those with non-violent charges or no prior criminal history. 

In a social media post on Sunday, January 6 defendant Adam Johnson, infamously known as “Lectern Guy” due to the widely circulated video of him casually strolling around the Capitol with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s podium, compared his treatment to that of the man who prosecuted him. Johnson called his treatment “second-class citizenship” and said he found it “frustrating” that Scruggs has a “lack of restrictions compared to what he [Scruggs] thought I needed because I was a ‘threat’ to my community for smiling and waving.”

Conditions imposed on Johnson included an ankle monitor, a nightly curfew, travel restrictions, and drug testing, even though his charges were non-violent and not drug-related. 

Johnson wrote,

This is my first prosecutor after J6. He’s been charged and will be spending a significant amount of time in jail when he is convicted. What is frustrating is his lack of restrictions compared to what he thought I needed because I was a “threat” to my community for smiling and waving. I received an ankle monitor, nightly curfew, travel restrictions, and I was forced to submit to drug tests for a non-violent non drug related crimes. He gets a pass. There are no journalists swarming his home, no death threats in his mailbox, and he doesn’t have to live in fear that someone will harm his family. Welcome to second-class citizenship. There is a club and you aren’t in it.

On Monday, Johnson responded to Elon Musk’s reaction to the video of Scruggs on X (formerly Twitter). Musk wrote, “Dude has serious issues,” and Johnson replied,

That’s my prosecutor. He said I was a threat to my community for smiling and waving, and here we are.

In February 2022, Johnson was sentenced to 75 days in prison and a $5,000 fine for his involvement in the January 6 riot. Scruggs worked for the Justice Department from September 2012 until April 2023.

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