Federal authorities have seized over $90,000 obtained by a Utah man who sold video footage of the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt during the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 by a group of pro-Trump supporters.
According to a 28-page criminal complaint obtained by Fox News, John Earle Sullivan, a self-described political activist accused of entering the Capitol building and participating in the riot, claimed to be an independent journalist.
However, investigators have not found any connection between Sullivan and any news organization prior to the event, and he admitted that he had no press credentials. Sullivan has also claimed that he does not make money off of his videos.
The footage was given to at least six news outlets, whose names were redacted in the court filing.
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The filing notes that Sullivan expressed excitement in audio recordings that he captured the shooting of a woman on film.
“Everybody’s gonna want this,” Sullivan allegedly stated. “Nobody has it. I’m selling it, I could make millions of dollars.”
“I brought my megaphone to instigate s–t. I was like, guys we’re going inside, we’re f—ing s–t up…. I’m gonna make these Trump supporters f— all this s–t up,” Sullivan allegedly told an individual on speakerphone. “But I mean you’ll see. I have it all, I have everything, everything on camera, everything I just told you, and I mean everything. Trust me when I say my footage is worth like a million of dollars, millions of dollars. I’m holding on to that s–t.”
In addition, Sullivan posted a livestream on social media around Jan. 4, 2021, in which he announced he was in Washington, D.C., for the Jan. 6 protests.
“It’s going to be massively insane … Trump people? Damn. Damn. If it’s a mixture of Trump people and Black Lives Matter people, damn, that’s even more intense for me, that’s something I want to see,” he allegedly said. “I’ll be a part of it, sure, I’ll be in it, but I don’t do illegal stuff guys. John’s a peaceful protester, I just record and show you guys the world.”
According to the complaint, Sullivan now faces eight charges related to the riot, including newly added weapons and false statements charges.
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Sullivan founded an organization called Insurgence USA in the wake of protests last summer related to George Floyd, a Black man who died while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
On Sullivan’s personal website and the Insurgence USA website, he describes himself as an activist for “racial justice and police reform.” He has also has shared articles on his websites and social media accounts where he is referred to as a Black Lives Matter activist.
In remarks given to a small crowd at a Washington, D.C., intersection in August, Sullivan pointed to the nearby White House and said, “We … about to burn this s— down” and “We gotta … rip Trump right out of that office right there,” adding, “We ain’t about … waiting until the next election.” He then led the crowd in a chant of, “It’s time for revolution.”
However, Black Lives Matter’s Utah chapter has disavowed Sullivan, describing him as a reckless agitator who was “blackballed” due to his behavior.
BLM Utah Founder Lex Scott told Fox News Sullivan never joined the local chapter, attended a meeting or took part in its mission to lobby for racial justice and police reform
“We do not want to be associated with John Sullivan,” Scott said. “He seems like he’s kind of a loose cannon. So we’ve just been distancing ourselves from him — but he’s like this thorn in my side that won’t go away.”
But Sullivan has not rejected the label.
“I was worried about people recognizing me and thinking that I was Antifa or, like, BLM or whatever,” Sullivan told Rolling Stone magazine in an interview about his experience inside the Capitol riot. “The entire time they’re yelling, ‘F— Antifa! F— BLM.’ I’m not saying I’m Antifa, by any means. But I definitely believe Black Lives Matter.”
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Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran, was one of five people who died during the riot after being shot and killed by a police officer as she tried to climb through a broken door into the Speaker’s Lobby.
The Department of Justice closed its investigation of Babbitt’s death on April 14, clearing the officer involved of any criminal charges.
“The investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber,” the DOJ said in a statement.
More than 440 people have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack.