Fledgling Actor From Texas Bashed a Cop With a Crutch in Capitol Riot: Docs

Pilar Melendez
·6 min read
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos via FBI/Getty
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos via FBI/Getty

An aspiring actor from Texas, who said he was almost “gassed to death like… a Jew” during the Capitol insurrection, has been charged with using a crutch to bash a cop in the Jan. 6 riot.

Luke Coffee, a 41-year-old from Dallas, has been charged with a slew of crimes, including assault of a federal law enforcement officer with a dangerous weapon and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. In a newly unsealed criminal complaint, prosecutors said Coffee is seen in photos and videos using a crutch to assault D.C. Police officers who were trying to protect the Capitol.

Before gaining notoriety for storming the Capitol, Coffee worked in post-production on two primetime television shows, including Everwood, according to his IMDB page. Returning to Dallas in 2010 after stints in Hollywood and Cape Town, Coffee established a production house under the umbrella of a company owned by his mentor, director Rocky Powell, according to his website. He has directed a documentary, a TV pilot, and continued acting, with appearances in NBC’s Friday Night Lights and Las Vegas.

But his social media shows his affinity for former President Donald Trump and his belief in conspiracy theories, including QAnon and how hydroxychloroquine can cure COVID-19. The day before the riots, Coffee said in one YouTube video, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” before mentioning former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. “Cue the storm baby Q storm,” he added.

According to Dallas news site Central Track, Coffee also documented his trip to the Capitol. The morning of the riots, Coffee—who prosecutors say was wearing a brown cowboy hat, camouflage jacket, and a blue bandana—posted a photo alongside another rioter. Behind them, hundreds of rioters with MAGA flags can be seen.

“Historic Day for ‘Merica!!” Coffee captioned the photo on Facebook.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Criminal Complaint</div>
Criminal Complaint

The complaint states that during the riots, Coffee is seen in videos on the steps of the Capitol near the Lower Terrace tunnel entranceway. He is seen turning toward the sea of rioters trying to breach the building and making “several statements,” though it’s not clear what he said.

The group of rioters at the Lower Entrance tunnel, which included Coffee, violently attacked officers with blunt objects and threw items at officers, the complaint says. One D.C. cop was “violently dragged down the Lower Terrace steps by protesters.”

Coffee was seen holding a crutch over his head before lowering it toward his waist and rushing into the line of D.C. and Capitol Police officers, the complaint says.

Bodycam footage shows that, after Coffee was forced back, he charged at the officers again, using the crutch “as a blunt object weapon by positioning the crutch directly toward the officer’s upper chest/head area.” It took about two D.C. officers to hold Coffee and his makeshift weapon back.

Prosecutors add that video footage shows the crutch being passed around to several insurrections who all used it to attack officers.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Criminal Complaint</div>
Criminal Complaint

The FBI was tipped off to Coffee from several witnesses, including a “college classmate who happens to be a Special Agent,” the complaint says. One witness, who said they met Coffee in mid-2020, said they recognized him because he was wearing “attire that stood out.” The witness also added that Coffee featured in a YouTube video last October in which he “discussed several conspiracy theories.”

During a Jan. 13 interview with federal authorities, Coffee admitted that he drove to D.C. from Dallas in a truck and was at the Capitol on Jan. 6. While he acknowledged that he “held up a crutch over his head” outside the building, “Coffee stated he did not engage in any type of physical confrontations with the police while at the Capitol Building,” the complaint says.

After the riots, Coffee appeared in several YouTube videos where he continued his rants about other conspiracy theories, including questioning the validity of the moon landing, and dabbling in Flat Earth and reptilian beliefs. In a since-deleted Facebook video, he admitted to pushing police with the crutch.

“Those cops I fought, uh, I was pushing against, I grabbed a crutch. And I went in and pushed against the line. I pushed all against the line and was, like, trying to drive them back, and God gave me some supernatural energy, and they sprayed in my eyes,” Coffee said in the Facebook video, according to Central Track.

Describing the violence as an “antifa false flag attack,” Coffee added that he was “ready to die” with “patriots” exercising their right of freedom of speech.

“I was ready to die last night. We thought we were, we were totally gassed. And I literally thought I was getting gassed to death like I was in Nazi Germany, a Jew getting gassed to death. Okay,” he said.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Luke Coffee featured in one of the FBI’s Most Wanted posters following the riot.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">FBI</div>

Luke Coffee featured in one of the FBI’s Most Wanted posters following the riot.

FBI

Daniel Caldwell, a 50-year-old from Texas, was also charged Friday with assaulting and “spraying a mist at police officers” who were attempting to protect the Capitol steps on Jan. 6.

Caldwell, who is seen in photos and videos in a camouflage outfit and a hoodie that said “Guns SAVE Lives,” was interviewed at a D.C. hotel after the riot. He admitted to being at the Capitol when a fight broke out and a “female was hit in the neck,” he said, according to a newly unsealed complaint.

“According to Caldwell, the fight then started and then ‘they took their guys’ and then someone took her (referring to the female who was hit) and took off,” the complaint says. “Caldwell said that individuals stayed in the area and police were spraying mace towards him. Caldwell said he told them if they continued, he would return spray.”

Caldwell then said in the interview that “once the officers sprayed him” he retaliated and sprayed about 15 cops. “Caldwell stated that officers then shot him with a big cannon with rubber bullets,” the complaint adds.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Criminal Complaint</div>
Criminal Complaint

The complaint says the FBI received many tips about Caldwell, including from a witness who said he engaged with the 50-year-old in an Airsoft Military Simulation—or MilSim. The game is described as “a live-action, in-person simulation of armed conflict scenarios conducted by civilians that involve airsoft plastic projectiles launched by replica weapons, but do not involve actual firearms.”

The witness told the FBI that he met Caldwell while playing MilSim about three years ago, and described him as a “huge white supremacist” and “a complete wacko.”

While playing the game, the witness said, Caldwell “would bring a real firearm to the course and had to be corrected on multiple occasions to return the firearm to his vehicle,” the complaint states.

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