A man accused of assaulting Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) in an elevator inside her Washington, D.C. apartment building in February pleaded guilty in federal court this week, officials said.
Kendrick Hamlin, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of assault on a member of Congress, as well as two counts of assault on a law enforcement official, according to a statement published by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday.
Prosecutors said Hamlin admitted to assaulting a detective and a police officer with the Metropolitan Police Department on the day he assaulted Craig. They also said he “willfully assaulted” the 51-year-old Democrat congresswoman from Minnesota.
In court papers provided by U.S. Capitol Police, a special agent wrote that Craig was getting coffee in the lobby of her apartment building early on Feb. 9 when she noticed a man pacing. That man then followed her into an elevator and said he needed to go to the bathroom and was coming into her apartment.
After Craig refused, he punched her in the side of her face and grabbed her neck, the agent wrote, adding she managed to escape by throwing her cup of hot coffee over her shoulder at him.
Hamlin, who has no fixed address and is also known as Hamlin Khalil Hamlin, was arrested by detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s First District on the same day the attack occurred.
Craig’s representative said in a statement following the incident that she suffered bruising but was “otherwise physically OK,” adding that there was no evidence to suggest the attack was politically motivated.
Assaulting a member of Congress carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and assault on a law enforcement officer is a misdemeanor carrying up to a maximum sentence of six months in prison, according to the DOJ.
Hamlin’s attorneys said in an emailed statement that he “accepted responsibility for his actions today with the earnest hope of moving towards rehabilitation and the mental health treatment he very much wants and needs.”
“Unfortunately, we know that treatment and rehabilitation will not occur in prison. We are hopeful that all parties can work together to finally provide Mr. Hamlin with the opportunity to get mental health support and treatment, as well as stable housing upon his release,” said his federal public defenders, Katie D’Adamo Guevara and Eugene Jeen-Young Kim Ohm.
A spokesperson for Craig said her office had no immediate comment on the development.
Prosecutors said in court papers that Hamlin had numerous previous convictions, including for assault on a law enforcement official.
During an appearance on “CBS Mornings” that aired in February, Craig alleged Hamlin assaulted at least a dozen people before he went on to attack her.
“I was assault No. 13 on his record,” Craig claimed. “And I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure there’s not a 14, a 15, a 20.”
Craig, who is currently serving her third term as a House member, denounced the district’s handling of prior cases and claimed Hamlin was only sentenced to “10 days or 30 days” for violent crime.
“I mean, it wasn’t even in every instance that he got 10 days or 30 days. Many times, the charges were completely dropped before any justice was achieved at all,” she said.
Craig won a third term in November in the suburban-to-rural 2nd District south of Minneapolis and St. Paul in one of the most expensive House races in the country, frustrating the GOP’s best hope of flipping a Minnesota seat in an election that gave Republicans a narrow House majority.
“All I could do was throw my coffee over my shoulder, which startled him,” Craig recalled in the interview. “But as soon as he regained, he came back toward me, and again, it was only until we got to the floor the elevator was headed to that I was able to escape.”
According to a public incident report, Hamlin was “acting erratic as if he was under the influence [of] an unknown substance” before entering the elevator.
Following the incident, Craig has vowed to support legislation for tougher penalties to make sure that “we’re not just letting criminals out.”
“We have to get these repeat offenders off the streets,” she said. “We also have got to figure out how we get people the mental health and addiction help that they need, because these people are getting back out and just recommitting the same crimes over and over and over again.”
Just hours after the attack, the GOP-led House voted 250–173 to pass a disapproval resolution against a rewrite of Washington’s criminal code that was passed by the City Council in November last year.
The criminal bill, which would go into effect in 2025, would overhaul Washington’s criminal statute for the first time since 1901, including reducing the maximum penalties for burglary, carjacking, and robbery.
According to the New York Post, Craig joined 31 Democrats in voting for the measure.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.