He never ended up flying to Europe. But thanks to that plan, the 51-year-old geophysicist will stay in custody until he goes to trial on the eight misdemeanor and felony offenses he faces over his alleged role in the insurrection.
U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan recently denied Sabol’s request for pretrial release, according to court documents released on Wednesday, citing his actions in the Capitol as well as his alleged plan to flee the country.
“Mr. Sabol’s willingness to act violently during what he perceived to be a ‘battle’ and a fight against tyranny is extremely troubling,” Sullivan wrote in a 64-page ruling April 8. “That he acted violently against law enforcement protecting the peaceful transition of power based on a belief that the 2020 Presidential Election was stolen is also very alarming.”
Sabol is among more than 400 people facing charges of joining a violent mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Judges presiding over several high-profile cases have recently rebuked prosecutors’ requests to keep rioters in jail, making distinctions between violent and nonviolent rioters. But in the cases involving alleged attacks on police, like Sabol’s, judges have more often granted prosecutors’ requests for defendants to remain in custody.
Sabol, who lives in the Denver area, falsely believed “there was no question” that President Biden stole the 2020 election, prosecutors said.
He arrived at the Capitol on Jan. 6 armed with a helmet, steel-toe boots, an earpiece and zip ties, and then “heard flashbangs going off and ‘recognized that a “battle” was already occurring,’ ” he later told investigators. Sabol said he believed that members of antifa started the commotion and that he heard a “call to battle,” which he answered “because he is a patriot warrior.”
In addition to cellphone records placing Sabol at the Capitol as of 3:30 p.m. that day, video footage also shows him climbing Capitol steps and appearing to assault two officers.
According to the indictment, Sabol wrested a baton from a D.C. police officer who had been knocked down by another rioter outside the Capitol’s West Terrace. Later, without his baton as protection, that officer was dragged into the angry mob, which ripped off his helmet and gas mask, stole his cellphone, Maced him, kicked him, struck him with poles and stomped on him.
The indictment also alleges Sabol was involved in the assault of a second officer. Video footage shows him with his left hand on the officer’s back and the right one holding the stolen baton up against his neck. He then allegedly helped drag the officer “face-first down the steps and into the mob.”
After Sabol’s brief return to Colorado, prosecutors said, he traveled to Boston on Jan. 9, where he planned to catch a flight to Switzerland. He later told law enforcement that to make his trip “look natural,” he was planning to go skiing there. But when he saw officers at the airport, he grew scared that they were looking for him and he abandoned his plans, rented a car and began driving south.
With the assumption the officers were following him, Sabol flung his cellphone out the window of the car as he drove away.
On Jan. 11, police in New City, N.Y., said they pulled him over after reports that he was “driving erratically.” When police approached the car, they found him covered in blood with “severe lacerations on his thighs and arms.” He told officers that he had tried to commit suicide, according to court documents.
In several disordered remarks, he also told officers: “I am tired, I am done fighting”; “My wounds are self-inflicted”; “I was fighting tyranny in the D.C. Capitol”; and “I am wanted by the FBI.”
While searching his car, police found uncovered razor blades, electronic devices, his passport, Social Security card, airplane tickets, and a green backpack and tan jacket that matched video footage from the Capitol riot.
He was taken to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., where the following day he spoke to officers. He allegedly admitted to being at the Capitol on Jan. 6, jumping over barricades and dragging an officer down the steps. But Sabol insisted he was trying to help one of the officers and was “patting him on the back” and saying “we got you man.” He also told police that he deleted text messages and a video of himself on Jan. 6 where he said “we’re going back in,” according to court documents.
He was charged with civil disorder on Jan. 15 and was arrested in New York on Jan. 22, where a magistrate judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered Sabol detained pending trial, citing him as a danger and flight risk. Following a federal grand jury indictment, Sabol received further charges on Jan. 29, as did two co-defendants. His lawyers filed the motion for pretrial release on Feb. 23.
Sabol’s lawyers argued that he understands that “this alleged conduct is serious” and that his violent actions occurred during a momentary “hysterical throng.” His lawyers also added that Sabol understood his beliefs that the election was stolen was “misguided” and “wrong,” adding he was “lied to” and caught up by “things that were said to the crowd of people by people like Roger Stone and Rudy [Giuliani] and the President himself,” according to court documents, referring to Trump’s longtime associate and his personal attorney.
“He points out that ‘[t]he President of the United States of America was telling citizens something evil has happened and you all have to go fix it,’" Sabol’s lawyers said, according to court filings.
In his decision, the judge acknowledged Sabol’s willingness to accept responsibility for his actions and noted that the court received 30 letters from family and friends, vouching for his character and good standing in the community.
But ultimately, Sullivan was unswayed.
“Considering the steps he took to flee to Switzerland to avoid arrest, Mr. Sabol is the epitome of a flight risk,” Sullivan wrote.