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Howard County man accused of spraying fire extinguisher toward police at Capitol riot rejects plea deal

WASHINGTON — A Maryland man accused of spraying a fire extinguisher toward police at an entrance to the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot has rejected a plea deal presented by federal prosecutors, according to a court filing.

The Nov. 19 filing doesn’t disclose any terms of the plea agreement that prosecutors offered 22-year-old Matthew R. Miller of Cooksville. In the joint filing, a prosecutor and a lawyer for Miller say they are discussing possible trial dates.

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Miller, who lives with his mother in Howard County, was arrested in January. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges that include assaulting, resisting or impeding police officers with a dangerous weapon, the fire extinguisher.

Miller was wearing a black cowboy hat and a Washington Capitals jersey with a Maryland state flag draped over his shoulders as he used a ladder to scale the walls of the west side of the Capitol plaza, the FBI said in a court filing.

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A video shows Miller joining a crowd of rioters in pushing toward police guarding the same entrance in which he deployed the fire extinguisher, according to prosecutors. They said the crowd appeared to be chanting “Heave! Ho!” as it rocked back and forth.

Prosecutors say the video refutes Miller’s claim that he was only protesting and left when he saw that other protesters were engaging in violence.

A defense attorney, A. Eduardo Balarezo, has said there is no evidence that Miller entered the Capitol or engaged in any acts of violence.

“In a momentary lapse in judgment, a young and impressionable Mr. Miller got caught up in the moment and acted against his better instincts,” Balarezo wrote.

Miller is a self-identified member of a group called “Patriotic American Cowboys” and also donned the Gadsden Flag during the Jan. 6 attack, according to prosecutors. They said in a court filing that the Gadsden Flag, which “depicts a rattlesnake above the words ‘Don’t Tread on Me,’” has become a symbol for the Tea Party, Second Amendment advocates and “organizations opposing government overreach.”

More than 660 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 siege. About 130 of them have pleaded guilty and 40 of them have been sentenced.

Scott Fairlamb, a New Jersey gym owner who punched a police officer during the riot, was sentenced earlier this month to 41 months in prison. Fairlamb, 44, was the first Capitol rioter to be sentenced for assaulting a law enforcement officer.

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