In posts linked to his since-deleted Facebook page, embattled Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Farmer wore a sweatshirt with the words “I Am the Militia” and questioned whether rioters who sieged the U.S. Capitol were Donald Trump supporters.
These details were included in a fair amount of content released about Farmer’s attendance at the pro-Trump rally in Washington, D.C., that turned into a mob siege of the U.S. Capitol Building last week — much of it released by Farmer himself.
Between an interview with Lexington television station LEX18 the day after the event and several Facebook posts by Farmer and friends, Farmer expressed both his excitement in the lead-up to the event and his disappointment in the violent turn it took.
Farmer, who is a detective, told The State Journal that his attorneys have advised him not to comment on the matter, or the internal investigation into his conduct that Franklin County Sheriff Chris Quire announced Thursday. Farmer deleted his Facebook page last week.
Two days after a widely publicized letter from all five Franklin County public defenders critical of Farmer’s attendance at the Trump rally as well his police conduct, Quire reassigned Farmer to "non-law enforcement" administrative duties, but emphasized that he supported Farmer’s right to attend the protest given to him by the First Amendment.
“As for questions of Detective Farmer committing any crime during the event, he has stated his innocence and that is a presumption fundamental to the rule of law in our country,” Quire said in a written statement. “No evidence has been presented that indicates Detective Farmer committed any crime.”
A photo posted on Facebook by one of Farmer’s friends shows the detective wearing a sweatshirt that reads “I am the militia” on the day of the rally. The sweatshirt does not appear to be associated with any specific militia, and is distributed by pro-gun company Colion Noir under the brand “Pew-Pew Life.”
“Anti-Gunners love to say that the Second Amendment only applies to the militia,” an online ad for the sweatshirt reads. “Ironically, they don’t realize that we are the militia, and now you have the perfect hoodie to remind them.”
Farmer’s exact location at the time of the rally is also unclear. Photos only show him at a subway stop and at the Washington Monument, where Trump spoke to a rally before a mob overtook the U.S. Capitol, halting lawmakers’ certification of Electoral College.
Per one of Farmer’s Facebook posts about the event, screenshots of which The State Journal obtained, he says that he made it to the “base of the steps.” It is unclear which steps he referred to. If he meant the main steps at the East or west entrances to the Capitol, that would place him inside the initial fence barrier that Capitol Police set up to keep protesters out of the building, according to a timeline of events published by the New York Times.
LEX18 reported that Farmer told the station he left the event when the violence broke out, before reaching the Capitol steps.
In both the LEX18 interview while riding back to Kentucky from D.C. and comments the day after, Farmer has consistently expressed disapproval of those who breached the Capitol, saying they “deserve to go to jail for what they did.”
In the interview he also referenced largely discredited claims about “voting discrepancies” in the 2020 general election, and said that he attended the rally as a “send-off party” for the president. He told LEX18 that he didn’t expect it to change the results of the election.
“I do not condone what they did and I feel sorry for them for being idiots and thinking that would help a ‘revolution,’” Farmer wrote. “But I sincerely, and I stress this sincerely, have a hard time believing those people were truly there to support Trump… I’m disappointed that it occurred and skeptical of who they really were.”
At the time of his post, Farmer also estimated that there were around 20 to 30 people storming the capital.
Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said on Tuesday that investigators had identified at least 170 people who they believe committed crimes on the Capitol grounds.
According to the Department of Justice, as of Thursday 42 people had been charged in federal court related to violence at the Capitol Building.