Capitol Riots: Multiple Experts in multifaceted cases.

American flag waving in front of the US Capitol building“The most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice”: How multiple experts can be of value in multifaceted cases.

On January 6th, the U.S. Capitol was invaded by supporters of former president Donald Trump, who were intent on stopping the congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s presidency. The rioters committed several crimes during the riot which included: assaulting law enforcement officers, impeding law enforcement, destruction and theft of government property, assault with a deadly weapon, and causing grievous bodily harm - amongst other crimes.

Due to the size of the mob that stormed the capitol, authorities were faced with the unenviable and enormous task of locating those involved. Authorities turned to the public for help in identifying suspects, some of whom were caught on security footage and pictured on social media during the attack. The Department of Justice was able to charge over 500 suspects in the attack, but authorities have said that there are still many who remain unidentified and need to be brought to justice.


Digital Forensics Expert:

Video & Imagery Enhancement

A digital forensics expert can be of value in capitol riot cases by identifying those responsible through the forensic analysis of video and imagery. Although technological advancements have made it easier to capture video and imagery, there are a multitude of factors that can affect the clarity of a video, or picture. Video and imagery enhancement can improve the quality of footage to uncover the truth of involvement.

Enhancement can be carried out in several ways; video forensics experts can use frame stabilization techniques to enhance a video. This removes jolting and other distracting movements, removes blur, and increases clearness, allowing key aspects of the video to come into focus.

The digital forensics process of image enhancement is similarly applied. This process focuses on making the image more discerning by increasing lighting. Any haze, blur, or other distorting effects are removed to improve the visual quality of the image. After this type of enhancement is performed, experts can then carry out image analyses such as facial comparisons. Facial comparisons compare the features and components of the face of multiple people in order to authenticate a person’s identity. This type of digital forensics can be vital to finding suspects who were pictured at the capitol riot.


Cell Phone Forensics Expert:


Another identification process that could be utilized to prove or disprove involvement in the January 6th riots is cell phone triangulation. This technique employed by cell phone forensics specialists can be used to pinpoint a suspect’s approximate location by using the surrounding cell phone towers that connected to their mobile device.

Cell phones connect with cell towers based on signal strength and the number of people connected to a tower at one time. Since the proximity of the tower is not the only factor which influences connection with a cell phone, triangulation is not considered an exact science but rather an estimation of location.

Triangulation works by looking at the towers that a cell phone was connected to, then mapping that location by drawing a circle around the coverage area of that tower. This is repeated with neighboring towers until there are a few overlapping circles. The approximate location of the cell phone would be in the center of these overlapping circles. A phone’s location can be narrowed down within 100 meters or less of its exact location. This approximation used in mobile forensics can be crucial in providing a digital footprint of where the suspect had been during the attack. This evidence can provide the necessary information to help discern culpability in the riot by confirming a suspect was at or around the scene or disprove involvement by showing they were nowhere near the Capitol at the time.


Law Enforcement Expert:

While some experts provide specialized, technical assistance as shown above where a digital forensics expert can use software and other methods to uncover the truth, experts such as those in law enforcement can aid in litigation through case analysis and export reports. Relying on specialized knowledge and extensive experience in their field, a law enforcement expert may be brought in to opine on police standard of care, use of force, and police training amongst other issues. Additionally, a law enforcement expert can provide expert testimony in a deposition or trial as an expert witness. Their expert testimony in a deposition or trial can provide a sense of objectivity and credibility and further assist jurors to understand complex aspects of law enforcement.

During the Capitol riots, one civilian was shot and killed by a police officer, an incident which would require an investigation and prosecution depending on the evidence. In this type of situation, a law enforcement expert can provide case analysis as a non-testifying consultant on the merits of the case. The expert in this situation would most likely opine on police procedure and the use of force.  This type of expert support usually takes place in the early stages of the case and helps to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for criminal prosecution. In this instance, the Department of Justice determined that it would not pursue criminal prosecution against the capitol police officer involved.


Whether as a non-testifying consultant or as an expert witness, experts can be key to discovering evidence and explaining complex issues. Their specialized knowledge and extensive expertise provide a high standard of reliability and impartiality that is crucial in litigation support. Finding the right expert for a case is not always easy, especially if the case is multifaceted and requires more than one expert from several areas of practice.

Seeking a consultation with an expert early on in a case can be beneficial as they can opine on the merits of pursuing litigation, and that gives them ample time for case preparation if there is sufficient evidence to support litigation.

The team of experts at Evidence Solutions are dedicated to putting evidence in plain English. Contact us today for a consultation on how we can help with your next case.

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