K-State doctoral student linked to Capitol riot released from custody

Savannah Rattanavong, The Manhattan Mercury, Kan.
·3 min read

Feb. 19—Federal officials earlier this week released a K-State doctoral student who'd been arrested in connection with last month's U.S. Capitol riot.

Shawnee County Jail officials said they turned over William Pope, 35, of Topeka to the FBI on Tuesday, but court records indicate he's since been released. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, which is prosecuting him, could not be reached Friday to comment on Pope's current status.

FBI and Topeka police arrested Pope on Friday on a U.S. District Court of Columbia warrant for obstructing or impeding any official proceeding; civil disorder; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; impeding passage through the Capitol grounds or buildings; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.

Federal agents also arrested his brother, Michael Pope, in Sandpoint, Idaho, on similar charges; he is also released from custody.

A federal judge sealed the men's criminal complaints, which would detail the essential facts of the alleged crimes. Prosecutors requested the action, saying its release could result in flight from prosecution, destruction or tampering of evidence, intimidation of potential witnesses and jeopardization of the investigation.

As part of William's release conditions, the court ordered that he not violate any law while on release, cooperate with DNA collection if necessary, notify someone in writing before changing his address or phone number, and appear in court as required.

The order also said he must surrender his passport to pretrial services, not travel to Washington D.C. except for court-related matters or consulting with an attorney, not travel outside of Kansas without permission, not possess any weapons and check in weekly with a pretrial services officer.

If convicted for the most serious charge, obstructing or impeding an official proceeding, Pope faces up to 20 years in prison, a maximum of three years of post-release supervision, an up to $250,000 fine and a $100 special assessment.

William is a doctoral student in leadership communication at K-State and graduate teaching assistant in public speaking. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Topeka City Council in 2019.

A pro-Trump mob breached the U.S Capitol building on Jan. 6 to prevent Congress from convening to count Electoral College votes that would confirm President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris' win in the November election. Five people died during the incident, including a Capitol Police officer.

Pope told the Topeka Capital-Journal afterward that he had self-reported his whereabouts to the FBI because "it was the right thing to do," but he was not violent during the incident. He said he traveled to the Capitol to "exercise his first amendment rights and remain loyal to the United States of America."

Pope is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing via Zoom at 1 p.m. March 1.