A Longview man charged in the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol is requesting pretrial release, arguing that he is not a threat and did not commit any illegal acts of violence during the riot, court documents show.

Ryan Taylor Nichols, 30, is being held on several charges related to the storming of the Capitol. He and his friend, Alex Kirk Harkrider, 34, of Carthage, were arrested in January.

In a motion for modification of bail, attorney Joseph D. McBride of New York asks the court to release Nichols on his own recognizance ahead of trial. A hearing is set Dec. 20, and Nichols will appear via Zoom.

“If the Court is not amenable to release on personal recognizance, (Nichols) moves this Court to release him into the third-party custody of his wife, and commit him to the supervision of a High Intensity Supervision Program (HISP) with GPS monitoring by local Pretrial Services,” the request states.

In the 45-page request, McBride gives Nichols’ account of the planning and events of Jan. 6 and discusses the state of the Washington, D.C., jail where he is held.

“The allegations are serious, controversy never ending, and the smear tactics deployed against every January Sixth protestor seem to know no bounds,” McBride wrote in the filing. “Ryan Nichols is thankful that he is not being tried in the court of public opinion and that the presumption of innocence as well as the presumption in favor of release support this application, which he now respectfully brings before this Court.”

Nichols denies each charge in the request for release.

The list of charges Nichols and Harkrider face include disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building with a deadly or dangerous weapon and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon on Capitol grounds or buildings. Nichols is also facing at least one charge specifically related to violence — act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings in the District Court for the District of Columbia.

According to court documents, Harkrider was armed with a tomahawk ax and Nichols with a crowbar and pepper spray.

On Jan. 22, a federal judge ruled Harkrider and Nichols would be held without bond until trial to assure “safety of the community” and because of a “serious risk that the defendant will flee.”

As part of the argument for release, McBride refers to Harkrider’s granted motions.

Judge Thomas Hogan in April ordered Harkrider be released on house arrest with electronic monitoring, pending trial. He has been granted several changes to his terms of release, including the removal of an ankle monitor and being allowed to travel to Louisiana twice to volunteer with Hurricane Ida relief.

According to the filing, Nichols believed on Jan. 6 that he and Harkrider could be attacked by “violent extremist groups known as Antifa and Black Lives Matter ...”

McBride writes in the filing that Nichols does not pose a flight risk because of his lack of criminal history and “non-violent background.” He also said because of Nichols’ four years of military service as a Marine and work operating a search-and-rescue nonprofit that he is an “excellent candidate” to be released.

“Mr. Nichols asserts that he never committed a single illegal act of violence or been part of any extremist group,” court documents state.

“Mr. Nichols is held in high esteem by both the January Sixth Detainees and the prison guards at the DC jail where he has languished in horrific conditions for the past ten months,” court documents state.

In part of the request, McBride said Nichols and Harkrider showed up to protest and — without previous intent — wound up inside the Capitol or used force “in defense of themselves or others.”

He also said Nichols believed he was answering a call from former President Donald Trump.

“This search and rescue duo had traveled to save Americans from dangerous situations dozens of times before,” McBride said. “And as Marines, they have both traveled to distant lands to serve America during times of war. Therefore, when the call to Save America from having its democracy stolen was sent out from the sitting President of The United States and Commander-in-Chief, Ryan Nichols answered without hesitation — Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful.”

McBride detailed the time leading up to Jan. 6 when the pair left Texas on Jan. 4 and arrived in Virginia the following day before heading to D.C. Court documents emphasize Nichols did not bring any “firearms, knives, chemical sprays, taser, stun gun, sharp object, hand cuffs, rope, or zip-ties” on the day of the protest.

Nichols said he wore his normal attire for search-and-rescue operations, items like steel-toe boots, a GoPro camera, chest protection — and a crowbar “in case of an emergency.”

“Mr. Nichols never carried a dangerous weapon — Mr. Nichols carried a crowbar,” McBride said.

He denied knowing anything about a planned march to the Capitol until former Trump spoke. Nichols and Harkrider walked down to the Capitol after the “Save America Rally” speeches.

Court documents paint the scene at the Capitol as chaotic and Nichols as a protester looking to help, claiming many of his actions were “reasonable” due to the “possibility of having to defend himself or others, against attacks from organized extremist groups.”

McBride said the scene quickly devolved and turned into “the Gates of Hell.”

At one point, a person hands Nichols a bottle that looks like a fire extinguisher. Nichols admits to pointing it at officers who were spraying people with a substance and spraying them back.

“The spray appears to have no effect of any kind, on any one,” the document states, referring to video of the scene. “Ryan has no idea what was in the bottle.”

Nichols writes that if the bottle contained a chemical that qualifies as a dangerous weapon, Nichols did not bring the bottle and “did not possess it.”

Nichols later saw people entering the Capitol trough a window, according to the filing. McBride said Nichols also went inside “out of curiosity” and was told a woman — fellow protestor Ashli Babbitt — had been shot and killed by Capitol police.

Around that time. Nichols’ father, Don Nichols, sent him a text. According to the document, the text said the protestors had been labeled as anarchists and that “they” might use lethal force to disperse the scene. His dad also wrote, “Go get your weapons.”

At about 4:20 p.m., Nichols “consumed with concern and emotion” grabbed a bullhorn from another person and said, “This is not a peaceful protest.”

Nichols told people to get their weapons.

McBride argues that Nichols believed he and Harkrider were in danger and needed to defend themselves.

Previous documents in the case show Nichols and Harkrider took photos and videos of themselves during the riots and posted them on their social media accounts. Investigators found photos, screenshots and videos from the pair depicting them taking part in the riot, according to arresting court documents.

The request states Nichols has been in a Washington, D.C., jail for about 300 days and has not been able to see his family. He has a wife and two children.

“The fact that he has not seen them in almost three hundred days is absolutely gut-wrenching for Ryan,” court documents said. “Both of his sons are devastated by his absence.”

Nichols also claims poor conditions and discrimination in the jail.

Recommended for You

Courtney Stern is a public safety reporter covering a wide range of topics. She grew up in Baltimore and later earned a journalism degree from the University of Miami. Stern moved to East Texas from Iowa with her husband and two dogs, Pebbles and Bam Bam.