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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Monday, March 20, 2017

Tennessee Man Sentenced to 11-Month Prison Term For Confrontation With Law Enforcement at U.S. Capitol

Defendant Pointed Weapon at Police

            WASHINGTON – Larry Russell Dawson, 67, of Antioch, Tenn., was sentenced today to 11 months in prison on a federal offense stemming from a confrontation with law enforcement while he was being screened at the United States Capitol Visitor Center, announced U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips and Matthew R. Verderosa, Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police.


             Dawson pled guilty on Dec. 13, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to a federal charge of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers while using a deadly or dangerous weapon. He was sentenced by the Honorable James E. Boasberg. Following his prison term, Dawson must complete three years of supervised release. Judge Boasberg also ordered that Dawson receive mental health treatment while in prison and while on release.


            According to the plea documents, on Monday, March 28, 2016, at about 2:37 p.m., Dawson entered the north security screening facility at the visitor center. He placed several personal items in a bowl in preparation for going through a metal detector. He then walked through a metal detector, which indicated the presence of metal at his waist level. Dawson was instructed to pass back through the detector, and metal again was detected.


            A Capitol Police officer then ushered Dawson through the metal detector. In response to the officer’s request, Dawson spread his arms. The officer then scanned Dawson with a hand-held metal detector, which indicated the presence of metal in the area of Dawson’s right waistband. Suddenly, Dawson reached into the area of his waist with his right hand, and removed what appeared to be a black handgun. Dawson also raised his left hand between himself and the officer. The officer grabbed Dawson’s left upper arm. As Dawson moved away from the officer and to Dawson’s right, the officer placed the hand-held metal detector on Dawson’s torso. Dawson seized the hand-held metal detector from the officer and quickly moved further into the visitor center. While moving, he threw the hand-held metal detector onto the floor.


            A few moments later, Dawson turned around, held the gun in his right hand, and pointed it at the officer who had screened him. While Dawson brandished the pistol at the officer, other officers moved civilians, including children, out of harm’s way. Other Capitol Police officers ordered Dawson to drop the weapon and put his hands in the air. Dawson ignored their verbal commands and advanced toward the officer who had screened him, continuing to point the weapon. One of the other Capitol Police officers then shot Dawson. The entry doors into the screening facility as well as the doors leading into the Capitol Visitor Center were locked to contain the threat. Dawson was apprehended, searched, rendered first aid, and transported to a hospital.


            The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Mobile Crime units recovered Dawson’s gun, a Daisy spring-loaded BB gun. In color, shape, weight, and other outward appearances, the gun resembled a semi-automatic handgun. Under federal law, an imitation gun, when used in circumstances such as those described in the plea documents, qualifies as a dangerous weapon.


            Dawson has been in custody since his arrest on the day of the incident.


            At today’s proceedings, Dawson also was sentenced on a second charge arising from another matter. On Oct. 22, 2015, Dawson was arrested after allegedly having disrupted Congress. He was charged in that case in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia with assaulting, resisting or interfering with a police officer and disorderly and disruptive conduct on U.S. Capitol grounds. He was released in that case with a court order to return for a hearing on Dec. 8, 2015. Dawson failed to appear for that hearing. He pled guilty in December 2016 to a charge of failing to appear in court, a District of Columbia offense. Judge Boasberg sentenced him to 90 days in prison for this offense, consecutive to the 11 months for the incident at the Capitol.


            In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Phillips and Chief Verderosa commended the work of those who investigated the case from the U.S. Capitol Police. They also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the Metropolitan Police Department. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including former Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacqueline Barkett and Nathan Charles. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney David Mudd, who prosecuted the case.

National Security
Press Release Number: 
Updated March 20, 2017