J6 defendant Kyle Young sits in a medium-security prison in Arkansas where he is serving 86 months for one charge tied to his interaction with DC Metro Police Officer Michael Fanone. Young allegedly grabbed Fanone's wrist, a three-second grasp that would later be categorized as "assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers." Young's original indictment carried ten charges. All other charges were dropped when Kyle accepted a plea deal in April 2022—according to Andrea Young, Kyle's wife, the DOJ's final sentencing memorandum probably delivered the 7-year sentence.
Young received an enhancement (extra time) because Fanone alleged Kyle inflicted bodily harm and prevented him from reaching his radio when he grabbed his wrist. Fanone alleged Kyle's actions "cost him his career." Fanone testified in front of Congress, "The assault on me by Mr. Young cost me my career," he said. "It cost me my faith in law enforcement and many of the institutions I dedicated two decades of my life to serving." Fanone was off duty that day but self-deployed to the Capitol anyway for reasons that are still unclear.
Video evidence that has come out since Jan. 6 contradicts Fanone's version of events. Andrea says, "Fanone has changed his story multiple times." The investigative video here from M5 News seems to confirm Kyle's version of his limited interaction with Fanone. In reviewing all the available videos, it does not look as though Kyle caused Fanone bodily harm in any way. Fanone's body cam footage is still under seal to this day.
There is no doubt complete chaos and fear ensued near the Capitol tunnel, particularly after the crowd heard a "young girl had been shot," said Andrea, alluding to Ashli Babbitt's murder, unknown at the time. Kyle told Andrea and others he grabbed the officer's wrist because he thought "Fanone went to grab his gun." He told her that people in the crowd were afraid Fanone would shoot them. Kyle encountered Fanone in the crowd while he was emerging from the tunnel where Roseanne Boyland died. Kyle left the Capitol moments before she died.
In addition to alleging he grabbed an officer's wrist, the government tried to accuse Kyle of robbery, saying Kyle tried to take Officer Fanone's gun. According to video evidence, Kyle never went for Fanone's gun, nor did he ever touch it. When the crowd tried to push Fanone back toward the other officers, Kyle said he spoke with Fanone briefly. Andrea says some of the video has disappeared because Kyle says there is a video of him speaking with Fanone, telling him he would end up getting hurt if he didn't go back to where the other officers were.
The government also alleges Kyle showed a "strobe light" in officers' eyes. Kyle did have a flashlight. He planned to use it later in case he was separated from his 16-year-old son after the protest. Kyle used the flashlight, shining it toward the line of police at one point, to prevent the police from hitting people in the head with batons, according to Andrea. However, according to Andrea, "Once Kyle realized the crowd was actually taking the batons from officers and hitting them back, he put his flashlight away." She added, "Kyle would tell you today that he doesn't feel his actions that day were one hundred percent honorable. He and others got carried away in the moment. But it was never as bad as the government made him out to be."
A heavy speaker was being passed overhead in the crowd at one point. Kyle helped pass it along, but it eventually was dropped because of its weight, and a protester was hit in the back of the head with it.
UncoverDC spoke with Andrea regarding Kyle's actions and inquired about how Kyle has been treated by the justice system. Ironically, Andrea's first words were to communicate that she and Kyle "do not want to make themselves out to be the victim all the time." Kyle turned himself in to the U.S. Marshal's office in Iowa in late January 2021 because friends and family had told him his face was on the FBI's most wanted posters.
Andrea explained that Kyle is "honest to a fault," and this time it hurt him because neither the Marshals nor the FBI had anything on him at the time. Andrea said when Kyle turned himself in, law enforcement said there were no charges against him. Kyle was let go after being told the FBI "would get in contact with his attorney."
Nevertheless, although Kyle had turned himself in and told law enforcement he would fully cooperate, the FBI still took him into custody on Apr. 14, 2021, after pulling a 6 a.m. no-knock raid on Young's home with his wife and children inside. One of the few interviews with Kyle can be found here, where he calls in from prison to "Joe in the Box."
Plea Deals and Sentencing in J6 Cases
There is no doubt Kyle's criminal history, and prior incarcerations factored into his harsh sentence in April 2022. According to his April 2022 plea deal, Kyle received nine additional points for a criminal history that had been addressed and corrected almost 20 years prior. Many J6 prisoners have received harsher sentences because of their criminal record, even when their criminal history was years earlier and fully atoned for.
Kyle first got into trouble when he was 18. After three incarcerations during a period of 8 years, Kyle served his time and turned his life around. He is now 39 years old and is married with four children.
Between 2003 and 2011, "Kyle was a drug addict," according to Andrea. Andrea shared that Kyle was from a small town, adding, "He was poor and hung around with the wrong kids. It was hard to escape because he kept returning to the same environment."
During the eight years, Kyle was charged with various crimes, including possessing "precursors" for the manufacturing of meth. When asked whether he was manufacturing meth, Andrea says he "was absolutely getting ready to go up to a field and make methamphetamines." Andrea said the second and third arrests were for "riding in a car with a friend with a firearm hidden under his seat" and "being around people who possessed drugs."
Andrea met Kyle prior to his second incarceration in 2007 and then lost contact for some time. Around 2010, before his third and last incarceration, and with a warrant out for his arrest, Kyle found Andrea again. Andrea commented:
"At that point, Kyle was getting his life turned around. He quit drinking. He quit doing drugs and was completely different from the man I met in 2006. We were dating at the time he was put in jail for the third time. We got married while he was in jail.
Once we got married, he got out of jail. I waited for him. We both had sons before we got together on our own. We built a life. Something changed in his head. He changed his life around. He got away. He got out of the town that he was from. He was hanging around with kids in his hometown, who influenced his behavior. We made a life. Life was good. We bought a home. We accomplished so much together. He is such a good father."
Andrea believes Kyle's plea deal was coercive. Prior to his plea deal, Kyle spent approximately a year in maximum security prisons and was ultimately transferred to Northern Neck jail, where other J6 defendants were housed. To clarify, while other J6 defendants were at Northern Neck in medium security, Kyle was put in "maximum lockdown" after his transfer there. To be clear, placement in maximum security is both unusual and unwarranted in Kyle's case. Grabbing a cop's wrist is not usually the type of crime that puts a man in maximum security—unless it seems you are a J6 defendant. Andrea explains that incarceration in a maximum security prison is no joke:
"Kyle was in with the worst of the worst, the people who tell you they're going to kill you every day. He was choked out and robbed of his commissary. Then, while at Northern Neck, he was transferred to medium-security with the other J6 defendants, but only after he agreed to a plea deal. They went ahead and put him where he was supposed to be. Now, if that's not coercion to take a plea deal. I don't know what it is."
The 86-page Sentencing Memorandum: Kyle Gets 7 Years
Looking deeper, however, how Kyle's plea deal was ultimately handled shows how manipulative and underhanded our government can be. According to Andrea, a statement of facts was discussed in court pursuant to his plea deal. It was that statement of facts to which Kyle agreed when he signed his plea deal. However, when the government later wrote its 86-page sentencing memorandum, the government, according to Andrea, "told the story they wanted to tell. And it was a story that didn't reflect the truth as discussed in court."
As presented to the judge, the sentencing memorandum wasn't anywhere close to the facts as discussed in court or as put forth in his 12-page plea agreement. "They just added stuff in there that Kyle never agreed to," said Andrea, "And so then that's what the judge saw." Kyle was not shown the government's sentencing memorandum before his sentencing in September 2022.
When reading the government's sentencing memorandum, it doesn't take long to understand why the Youngs allege the government ignored the facts of Kyle's case. The document shows countless instances of exaggeration, overly inflammatory descriptions, and places where the government seems to craft a new story out of whole cloth to fit its own narrative.
Kyle never assaulted an officer. Fanone accused Kyle and others of saying, "Kill him with his own gun." No video shows people shouting those words, and Kyle certainly never chanted them. The bottom line is that anyone who reads the government's rendition of events in the sentencing memorandum might easily believe Young is a dangerous criminal who warrants being locked up for years.
Kyle's attorneys submitted their recommendations for sentencing at the same time to the court. However, it was the government's lengthy sentencing memorandum that Judge Amy Berman Jackson considered most heavily. As a result, the Youngs believe his sentence was much harsher than it might have been. The government requested 86 months, and Kyle's attorneys requested 24 months with probation. Fortunately, Judge Berman Jackson allowed Kyle to apply time spent in prison to his current sentence.
In an interesting aside, Andrea explained the realities of prison. There have been times she and her children have been turned away after driving 12 hours to see Kyle. Andrea also says prisoners have to learn the rules of the prison. For example, she told UncoverDC that Kyle only recently found out he qualifies for the First Step Act. To take advantage of the early release program instituted by President Trump, individuals must submit for permission to participate in the required classes.
However, Kyle, like others, faced challenges in prison that prevented him from knowing he qualified in the first place and also prevented him from fulfilling the "good behavior" criteria that would shorten his sentence. Eventually, someone on the outside told Andrea he qualified.
Andrea explained how the prison system really works. What goes on in prison often contradicts what needs to go on to shorten one's sentence. It truly is a case of the inmates running the asylum:
"The crazy thing is that the inmates run the class signups for the First Step Act. So when Kyle went to turn in his application to join one of the classes, it was a Black guy who took his application. He told Kyle the classes were full. Kyle says 'Okay' and turns around. But right after him, a Black guy walks up and turns in his application, and the guy taking the applications allows it."
Kyle told Andrea that he has to pay other inmates to put him on the list as an incentive to write him in, or he probably won't get the classes he wants and needs.
In other cases, prisoners must follow rules and a pecking order. Sometimes, that involves beating others up to stay alive. It also often means behaving like a model prisoner is not easy. Andrea told UncoverDC:
"The new guys, they have to 'put in their work.' According to the seasoned guys, a new guy's 'paperwork' might not be 'good.' So they have to beat somebody up to prove that they're worthy and whatever else. So, of course, Kyle had to 'put in his work', and he doesn't even know for sure what was wrong with this or that person's paperwork. So Kyle would have to beat someone up. For that, he went to the shoe, the solitary holding unit. He lost a good amount of time there.
But it would be much worse if he didn't. They would beat him up worse, and the other person would have gotten beaten anyway. It's a zero-choice thing. It's either you do it. Or you'll probably get beaten with a lock or stabbed. The same goes for medium security prisons like the one where he is now. Imagine what it was like in maximum security. In those prisons, people get stabbed if they don't follow the rules. Kyle didn't tell me everything that happened to him there."
Andrea is clear-eyed about Kyle's history, the warts and all. She believes, in some ways, his earlier incarcerations have made him better able to handle his current imprisonment. For the most part, she was upbeat and optimistic about their family's future. However, she says Kyle believes the government has made it difficult "to live the way others can." When Kyle gets out, Andrea continues:
"He wants to live in Alaska and become a Bush pilot. He feels like he has to escape society completely in order to stay safe and be able to live life. He is funny, honest to a fault, and he is an amazing father. He is a hard worker.
When we were first married, and he was a felon, it was hard for him to find a job, so he worked at Burger King. He bought a home and studied for his HVAC certification. Kyle is determined, and when he puts his mind to something, he accomplishes it."