Democrat prosecutor Patrick Scruggs, who jailed Trump supporters who entered the Capitol on January 6, 2001, was arrested this week for stabbing an innocent driver on a bridge in Tampa, Florida.
Patrick Douglas Scruggs, 38, of Tampa, worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office from September 2012 until April of this year. His time there included appearing on behalf of the federal government during hearings for Florida Trump supporters accused of taking part in the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Tampabay.com reports: In May, he joined Barnes and Thornburg, an Atlanta-based private law firm, as an “of counsel” attorney, the page says. The page describes Scruggs as “a seasoned litigator and investigator with experience in various practice areas of criminal law.”
Now Scruggs faces his own legal trouble stemming from a bizarre chain of events that unfolded on the Howard Frankland as rush hour was winding down on Tuesday morning.
According to a news release issued Tuesday by the Florida Highway Patrol, a 40-year-old Tampa man was driving a sedan south on Interstate 275 when he and his 43-year-old wife noticed a vehicle that was stopped in the travel lanes of the bridge shortly before 9:24 a.m. The 35-year-old driver, also of Tampa, was slumped over inside his sedan, troopers said, so the couple pulled over in front of the car to help.
The 40-year-old man was unable to get inside the other sedan, so he walked back to his car to get something that could break the window. While he was doing that, the 35-year-old man woke up and accelerated forward, crashing into the couple’s sedan. He shifted into reverse and then tried to get around the couple’s sedan, according to troopers, but at that point, he struck Scruggs’ sedan as he was driving by the scene.
Scruggs pulled over, got out and walked up to the driver of the vehicle that hit his car. According to the Highway Patrol, Scruggs broke a window and started stabbing the 35-year-old man with a pocketknife.
The couple returned to the vehicle to help the man being stabbed, but Scruggs then tried to stab them and they fled, troopers said.
A St. Petersburg Police Department officer driving past saw the commotion and pulled over to help, the Highway Patrol said. The officer detained Scruggs and called for assistance.
The 35-year-old man was taken to a local hospital with injuries authorities described as serious but not life-threatening.
Troopers arrested Scruggs on charges of aggravated battery, aggravated assault and armed burglary. He was released from the Pinellas County Jail at about 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday after posting $65,000 bail, records show.
Probable cause affidavits for Scruggs include few details and do not list a suspected motive in the attack.
Scruggs’ attorney, John Nohlgren, released a statement to the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday afternoon.
“In America, every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Mr. Scruggs is no different than anyone else and should be afforded that same presumption,” the statement said. “He has no prior criminal history and has spent nearly his entire career protecting the people of this country.”
The statement called the incident “a chaotic situation involving multiple crashes caused by only one person on one of our area’s busiest bridges.”
“That person was not Mr. Scruggs,” the statement said. “There is much more to this incident than what is being reported and we are diligently working to bring to light the full facts of what occurred. We urge that the public keep an open mind and withhold from making judgments. We will bring forth all of the facts and make them known to the authorities in the proper forum.”
Voicemail messages left at Barnes and Thornburg’s Atlanta headquarters and Palm Beach Gardens office were not immediately returned Wednesday.
In a public Facebook post that has since been taken down or set to private, Tara Jex Iglinski said she came upon the incident as it was unfolding. Iglinski’s post said she saw a man “holding the knife and I saw the arms of the guy sticking out the window like he was pleading for help — and his arms were all cut up.”
Photos accompanying the post show a man holding a knife and standing next to a car with the driver holding out bloody, outstretched arms.
“I took the photos and noticed the knife in the guys hand, and that there was blood all over both of them,” Iglinski’s post said.” I don’t know what happened before I got there or what happened after I was able to get around them.”
Scruggs, who got his law degree from Boston College Law School, joined the Narcotics Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa in 2013, according to a news release issued by that office at the time. His previous practice at that point included working in the Trial Division and the Prescription Drug Investigation Unit of the New York County District Attorney’s Office in New York City, the release said.
In 2017, Scruggs prosecuted a murder-for-hire case against Priscilla Ellis, a Texas woman convicted in a large fraud scheme who plotted from jail to kill witnesses who testified against her. Scruggs penned an artfully worded and memorable sentencing memo in that case, referencing T.S. Eliot’s 1925 poem “The Hollow Men” to describe Ellis’ lack of remorse. Ellis received a 65-year prison sentence in the murder-for-hire case.
Days after the riots at the U.S. Capital in 2021, Scruggs appeared on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office during the bond hearing of Adam Johnson, the Parrish man who became one of the most prominent symbols of the riots that engulfed the U.S. Capitol when he was photographed carrying a lectern from the House of Representatives. Scruggs asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Tuite to order certain restrictions while Johnson was on release, including drug testing, the surrender of his passport and a nightly curfew.
“This is a serious case,” Scruggs told the judge. “Everyone involved in the storming of the Capitol last week needs to be held accountable for their actions, including Mr. Johnson.”
Another judge in 2022 sentenced Johnson to 75 days in jail.
Scruggs was also involved in the prosecution of terrorism suspect Muhammed Alazhari. He helped secure a plea agreement in that case in which Alazhari admitted to an allegation that he plotted an attack in support of ISIS. As part of the agreement, Alazhari received an 18-year sentence.