PORTLAND, Ore. — A Texas man pleaded guilty Wednesday to assaulting a federal officer with a hammer outside the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, last summer during a protest.
Jacob Michael Gaines was arrested on July 11, 2020, after he banged a hole in plywood covering an entrance to the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
When a deputy U.S. marshal went to arrest Gaines, Gaines used the hammer on the marshal, “swinging and striking” him with it, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Cardani.
Gaines struck the marshal in the shoulder and upper back with the hammer before other members of a U.S. Marshals tactical team took Gaines to the ground and arrested him, according to court records.
Gaines pleaded guilty to one count of felony assaulting a federal officer with a deadly and dangerous weapon. He told the judge Wednesday that the account of what happened was accurate.
Under a plea deal, Cardani said he will recommend Gaines be sentenced to just over three years in prison, largely because of his acceptance of responsibility and limited criminal history.
Gaines remains in custody at the Columbia County Jail. His sentencing is set for Dec. 13.
Federal agents used freeze frames of video obtained from a Twitter account to document the allegations against Gaines, the prosecutor wrote in court records.
Cardani described Gaines as unemployed and living in a bus with his wife in North Portland and said he has moved back and forth between Texas, Portland and Bend, Oregon. He said Gaines has said he had guns in his bus and suffers from mental health issues, according to court records.
Gaines told the court Wednesday he is now taking medications for his mental health but that he understood the ramifications of his guilty plea.
Gaines is among a handful of defendants who have pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from arrests related to nightly protests against police brutality in Portland last year that began after the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis.
Of a total of 96 federal protest-related prosecutions, about 62 have been dismissed. About 30 cases are pending. Four people have been sentenced, according to Kevin Sonoff, a spokesman for Oregon’s U.S. Attorney’s office.
The pending prosecutions include defendants charged with civil disorder, destruction of government property, arson and assault on a federal officer.