Mason Joel Courson during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Credit: U.S. Department of Justice.
By Kevin Deutsch
A Tamarac man accused of assaulting law enforcement during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol used a police baton to strike an officer and dragged a second officer down a staircase—then kept the baton as a possible “trophy,” newly released court records show.
Using a series of vivid still photographs from police body-worn police cameras and news footage, as well as evidentiary documents contained in federal court filings, the Department of Justice accused Mason Joel Courson, 26, of participating in one of the most violent attacks on police during the failed attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden as winner of the 2020 presidential election.
Prosecutors argued before a federal judge that Courson posed too serious a threat to the public to be released on bond, and the judge hearing the evidence agreed, court records show.
“I find it significant that [Courson] kept the baton with which he assaulted [the officer],” U.S. Magistrate Judge Jared M. Strauss wrote in a Dec. 23 detention order issued in federal court in Fort Lauderdale. “Whether [Courson] intended to keep it as a trophy or a memento, I cannot determine. However, the fact that [Courson] kept that weapon over the course of the last year is not emblematic of someone who has remorse or has come to regret his actions after the passions of the moment have subsided.”
“For all of these reasons, I find that [Courson’s] character and history provide significant doubt for whether he would respect and abide by conditions of bond that I could set.”
Courson is charged with offenses that include assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon, inflicting bodily injury, civil disorder, and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, among other federal crimes.
The court filings show Courson left Florida with a friend on Jan. 4, 2021, to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally held by then-President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., two days later. At the rally, Courson posted a picture on social media with the caption “I’m here to #stop the steal,” referring to Trump’s false claims he won the election.
After the rally, prosecutors said Courson participated in a violent assault of a D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officer who was beaten with a baton, flagpole, and crutch. That same afternoon, Courson participated in “heave-ho” efforts to storm the Capitol in the area of the Lower West Terrace tunnel leading into the building, according to the government.
During Courson’s baton attack on police, he wore a gray Oakley jacket, a red Trump beanie, sunglasses, black gloves, and a ‘Thin Blue Line USA’ face and neck covering, while carrying a dark-colored backpack, prosecutors said.
“[Courson] was among those seeking to ‘battering ram’ their way through officers protecting the entrance and actually entered the Capitol,” Strauss wrote. “Even more significantly, he attempted to injure another person–specifically [one] officer…by striking him with the baton and [a second] officer…by assisting in dragging him down the stairs.”
During his post-Miranda statement to the FBI, [Courson] “admitted to exchanging blows with officers” and to attacking the officer with the baton, Strauss wrote. He also said, “he felt striking the officers was ‘justified.’”
Courson told agents the scene on the Capitol grounds was like being in a “war zone” and that he felt like he was engaged in a “battle,” according to the records.
“Despite his ‘Thin Blue Line’ face covering (seemingly showing support for law enforcement), he stated that he felt these officers were not ‘thin blue line’ but rather were traitors,” wrote Strauss.
On Dec. 14, around ten FBI agents along with a SWAT team executed a search warrant on Courson’s residence in Tamarac, the records show. They found the baton he had used during the Capitol attack, along with two firearms and the clothes he had worn during the riots, according to the documents.
Courson, a father and businessman who sells audio equipment, has a criminal history that includes several arrests between 2013 and 2018, including busts for battery, grand theft, and resisting arrest without violence, the records show.
“Clear and convincing evidence indicates [Courson] took part in what can only be described as an armed insurrection against American democracy,” Strauss said in his order rejecting bond for Courson.
“The rioters sought to overturn the results of a democratic election with which they were unhappy–not by politics or by law, but by force. I cannot conceive of anything evincing a greater disrespect for the rule of law.”
Courson is currently being held in federal custody in D.C., records show.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.