Fact Check: January 6, 2021, Image Does NOT Show Federal Agent Holding Badge

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: January 6, 2021, Image Does NOT Show Federal Agent Holding Badge Vape Pen

Does an image taken from footage on January 6, 2021, reveal a federal agent holding a badge as part of a staged federal insurrection or "Fedsurrection"? No, that's not true: The image shows Kevin Lyons, a Chicago man sentenced to 51 months in prison on six federal charges. Multiple news stories identify him and show Lyons at the U.S. Capitol on the day of the insurrection, holding what is likely a vape, not a badge.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on X (formerly Twitter) by Gunther Eaglemanโ„ข on November 19, 2023. The post's caption said:

FACT: January 6th was a staged Fedsurrection ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿผ

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:


(Source: X screenshot taken on Tue Nov 21 15:43:32 2023 UTC)

The image

The still image above comes from security footage at the Capitol. About 16 seconds into a social media video by NBC justice reporter Ryan J. Reilly (archived here), Lyons flashes his palm, showing the same image that appeared on X. Another version of the video (archived here) gives a clearer picture of what's in his hand. The two images appear side-by-side below:


(Source: X screenshots taken on Tue Nov 21 2023 UTC)

The second image shows Lyons holding a black vape with a white logo of some sort, a silver stem and a black mouthpiece. It's similar in structure to this vape diagram on the iSmokeKing, electronic cigarettes website:


(Source: iSmokeKing taken on Tue Nov 21 20:01:28 2023 UTC)

Federal case

Lyons was convicted for his role in the Capitol insurrection on July 14, 2023. He was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison after he was found guilty in April 2023 of six federal charges. Images released by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (below) and published by HuffPost (archived here), show Lyons wearing a red MAGA hat and two hooded sweatshirts as seen in the previous pictures.

The first image is one Lyons recorded of himself when he was in then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office. The second one shows him holding a photo of the late Rep. John Lewis that he stole from the speaker's office:


(Source: HuffPost screenshots taken on Tue Nov 21 2023 UTC)

The book

Reilly, who wrote a book called "Sedition Hunters: How January 6th Broke the Justice System" on the insurrection, also posted this image on his X account (archived here). It shows Lyons, wearing the same two sweatshirts and the red hat, outside the Capitol, holding a vape with a black body and a shiny metal mouthpiece (see blue box below):


(Source: X screenshot taken on Tue Nov 21 15:43:32 2023 UTC)

Reilly also documented Lyons' activities in Pelosi's office, based on recordings made by Lyons. Reilly posted page 222 from his book on his X account (archived here):


(Source: X screenshot taken on Tue Nov 21 20:13:31 2023 UTC)

Read more

Additional Lead Stories fact checks of claims related to the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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