One of the more than 700 people charged in the attack, a Florida man who threw a fire extinguisher at police officers during some of the most ferocious fighting at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, received a sentence of more than five years in prison on Friday, the longest sentence handed down so far to any of those charged.
After hearing to President Donald J. Trump address a large audience at the Ellipse, a park immediately south of the White House, the defendant, Robert Palmer, made his way to the Capitol in a unique red-white-and-blue flag-styled jacket. Palmer was charged with obstruction of justice. His whereabouts outside the building are unknown, but prosecutors claim he was milling around in the throng as confrontations between police and protesters became more intense.
Mr. Palmer found himself in the midst of the most intense fighting on the lower west terrace, where an almost mediaeval style of hand-to-hand battle had erupted just before 5 p.m. In another location, prosecutors allege, he attacked policemen by hurling a wooden plank-like spear at them, spraying them with a fire extinguisher, and then hurling the empty canister at them.
Mr. Palmer, 54, wrote a letter to Judge Tanya S. Chutkan before his sentencing hearing in Federal District Court in Washington, in which he stated that he had come to recognise that Mr. Trump and his allies had lied to their supporters by “spitting out the false narrative about a stolen election and how it was ‘our duty’ to stand up to tyranny.”
As he described his experience watching a television news programme about himself while in prison, Mr. Palmer grew upset, saying he was “extremely saddened” to witness the “coldness and calculation” with which he had assaulted the police. He informed Judge Chutkan that he was “truly, very embarrassed” of his actions that day and that he would never again participate in a political gathering of any kind.
Judge Chutkan, who has taken a tough stance against the Jan. 6 defendants in the past, told Mr. Palmer that she wanted to make it clear that anyone attempting to “violently overthrow the government” or “interfere with the peaceful transition of power” would be met with “absolutely certain punishment,” according to the judge.
She went on to say that the 63-month jail sentence was “the result of their acts.”
It will be the second time in as many years that someone who has admitted to attacking police will be held accountable for his or her actions. Scott Fairlamb, a former New Jersey gym owner, was sentenced to 41 months in jail last month, a sentence that he has subsequently chosen to challenge on the grounds of insanity.
Jacob Chansley, also known as the QAnon Shaman, was sentenced to 41 months in jail last month, in addition to the previous term. In addition to appealing his sentence, Mr. Chansley pled guilty to a single felony offence of impeding an official procedure before Congress, which he is appealing as well.