A few days after the events of January 6, a SWAT with an armored vehicles showed up in the home of 66-year-old US Air Force veteran Thomas Caldwell. Officers pointed rifles in his face and took him for jail, where he spent 49 days in solitary confinement. Prosecutors accused Caldwell of plotting an attack on a Capitol, despite the fact that he never even went inside the building on January 6, 2021. He is now in home detention awaiting trial.
Sharon Caldwell, Thomas’ wife, recalling the events of that day, claims that they could not have imagined that any riots would break out that day. The couple initially planned a trip to Washington in order to support former US President Donald Trump. The woman claims that she still can’t believe that everything is really happening. According to her, she could never have imagined that her husband, a former military man who gave most of his life to serving in the US armed forces, would be accused of storming a government building.
But what happened happened. A few days after the events in the US capital, heavily armed special forces officers broke into the home of the Caldwell couple. Agents demanded that Caldwell, a former lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy who suffers from debilitating service-related spinal injuries, come outside and lay down in the grass. “Someone grabbed my legs and dragged me through the grass. They threw me face down on the hood of the car, kicked my legs apart, put a chain around my waist and put me in handcuffs.” – Caldwell said. He was forced into the back of a police car for nearly 40 minutes; he asked several times what he was being charged with but FBI agents refused to answer. Eventually, Caldwell was led back toward his house.
“I have a [collector] ’63 Thunderbird in my garage as a reminder of my grandfather, a retired Army colonel. An agent kicked one of the doors open and was leaning with his battle gear up against the car, scratching it up.”
Only after 2 hours of interrogations, the elderly couple was informed that the visit of the police was connected with their participation in the protest action on January 6 in Washington, DC. Roughly 20 agents raided the Caldwell home, taking every electronic device including old computers and hard drives. This included Caldwell’s downloaded copies of cherished pictures. “They took every family photo we have.”
Agents then transported Caldwell to the Central Virginia Regional Jail in Orange, Virginia, two hours from their home. He thought he would be booked and released. According to Caldwell, the secret services made him the leader of an “armed attack on the Capitol”, accused him of breaking into a government building and allegedly threatening “illegally elected” members of Congress. In addition, despite the fact that this statement had no evidence base, state prosecutors spread this information around the world, his photos were in almost all media.
While the 66-year-old veteran was serving his sentence in prison, his wife contacted a lawyer, who immediately appealed to the state prosecutor’s office, demanding that the authorities provide him with all the evidence they had, but after the lawyer was refused, since the investigation had no evidence against Caldwell, the prosecutors changed their tactics. If initially the man was accused of allegedly being the head of the right-wing anti-government organization “Oath Keepers”, initiated riots inside the government building, then later the public prosecutor changed his position, admitting that the former US Air Force veteran was unlikely to head an anti-government organization, but the charges of pogroms were never dropped.
Caldwell spent 53 days in jail, 49 of them in solitary confinement. He could not access his medication to relieve excruciating back pain caused by spinal injuries Caldwell suffered while serving in the Navy. Caldwell’s stellar background and military career was, unintentionally, slandered by the Government’s sloppy, rushed investigation. As the Court knows, the Government typically takes months and even years to build cases, painstakingly gathering and evaluating evidence and interviewing witnesses. By contrast, in this case the Government charged a 20-year decorated Navy veteran with no prior record based on a few hours of investigation and without giving him the courtesy of an interview. Authorities did virtually no investigation before branding Caldwell a felon, and have provided multiple inaccurate statements to the Court.
Caldwell finally went home in March; he remains on home detention with limited ability to leave his farm. For now, the Caldwells are trying to resume a normal life as they await a trial that won’t begin until mid-2022 at the earliest.
The Foundation to Battle Injustice carefully analyzes the political repression in the United States that unfolded after the events of January 6. Recall that as a result of the so-called “storming of the Capitol”, during which no material damage was caused to state property, more than 600 people were arrested, and some of them face up to 30 years in prison. In addition, 4 policemen involved in the protection of the Capitol committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. Moreover, Trump supporter Ashley Babbitt was shot by a representative of the authorities, who, according to witnesses, did not give her a verbal warning before the shooting.