Although Samsel, 38, says the jailhouse attack left him with serious health concerns, including seizures, federal prosecutors said his record of attacking women — and a failure by law enforcement to hold him accountable — were reason enough to keep him in custody.
“The Government does not dispute that Samsel has medical conditions that are alarming,” prosecutors said in a new filing. “But they simply do not outweigh other aspects of Samsel’s history and characteristics, which leave little doubt that Samsel’s release would put the public at-risk.”
Samsel’s attorneys, though, argued that granting his request wouldn’t actually put him back on the street. Since he has a detainer filed against him for a parole violation, he would be moved to another jail in Pennsylvania.
“The community to which he would be released is a secured correctional institute,” his attorney said in a motion for his release. “Mr. Samsel’s safety and medical well-being remains at risk as a result of his continued incarceration.”
Police arrested Samsel in Bristol, Pa., in late January after federal investigators alleged he had shoved a Capitol Police officer to the ground on Jan. 6, causing her head to smack into a staircase. That officer was “semiconscious” immediately after the fall, prosecutors said, and later “blacked out and collapsed” from a concussion.
According to federal prosecutors, Samsel had a history of violence long before Jan. 6. Samsel has been accused of attacking other people, usually women, at least six times, and he had at least four prior convictions for crimes that sometimes left his victims fearing for their lives.
In 2006, Samsel ran a woman off the road and then punched her windshield and threatened to kill her over a $60 dispute. He was convicted of terroristic threats, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct in that case. The next year, he allegedly knocked a man’s teeth out. In 2009, he was convicted of choking a woman to the point of unconsciousness and beating her badly enough to chip a tooth.
Two years later, he got into a heated argument with his pregnant girlfriend, according to a police report cited by prosecutors. As the fight escalated, Samsel shoved a hot pizza into her face. Then, when they walked home, Samsel poured a beer on her, shoved her into a canal, and then repeatedly held her under the water as she told him she loved him and pleaded for him to stop.
“I was afraid he was going to kill me,” the woman later told her sister, according to the police report.
Samsel was convicted of simple assault, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, unlawful restraint and intimidation of a witness for the attack.
In 2015, he was convicted of choking another woman and hitting her head so hard that she suffered a hematoma. In 2019, another woman in New Jersey accused Samsel of breaking into her home on multiple occasions to attack her and sexually assault her, prosecutors said in court documents. She said he had choked her until she lost consciousness.
“She described waking up vomiting, with him still in the house,” prosecutors said. “The victim also alleged that Samsel raped her multiple times, and that she had often been scared he would kill her.”
The woman obtained a restraining order against Samsel, prosecutors said, but he violated the order on multiple occasions. There was an active warrant in New Jersey for Samsel’s arrest on charges related to those allegations when he allegedly stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Samsel’s attorney argued that his health and safety are at risk in the D.C. jail after an April beating that left him with a broken nose, dislocated jaw and seizures. That attack is under investigation by jail authorities and federal officials, The Washington Post reported. Samsel’s attorney claimed that he had not received adequate medical care afterward, and argued that since he would be sent to a Pennsylvania prison upon his release from D.C. custody, there was no danger that he would miss future court appearances.
But federal prosecutors on Wednesday countered that Samsel’s prior violence made him a threat to the public, and suggested he should have been incarcerated long before he participated in the January insurrection.
“Reviewing the police reports from these prior incidents reveals a pattern of Samsel not only threatening to kill others, but coming extremely close to actually doing so,” prosecutors said in the memorandum. “The courts have repeatedly failed the public and these victims when it comes to Samsel.”
A judge has not yet ruled on Samsel’s motion for release.