Daniel Rodriguez used stun gun on officer Michael Fanone, who lost consciousness, suffered heart attack
A California man who drove a stun gun into a police officer's neck during one of the most violent clashes of the U.S. Capitol riot was sentenced on Wednesday to more than 12 years in prison.
Daniel (DJ) Rodriguez yelled, "Trump won!" as he was led out of the courtroom where U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced him to 12 years and seven months behind bars for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. Only two other Jan. 6 defendants have received longer prison terms so far after hundreds of sentencing for Capitol riot cases.
The judge said Rodriguez, 40, was "a one-man army of hate, attacking police and destroying property" at the Capitol.
"You showed up in [Washington] D.C. spoiling for a fight," Jackson said. "You can't blame what you did once you got there on anyone but yourself."
Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone's body camera captured him screaming out in pain after Rodriguez shocked him with a stun gun while he was surrounded by a mob.
Another rioter had dragged Fanone into the crowd outside a tunnel on the Capitol's Lower West Terrace, where a line of police officers was guarding an entrance to the building. Other rioters began beating Fanone, who lost consciousness and suffered a heart attack after Rodriguez pressed the stun gun against his neck and repeatedly shocked him.
Officer suffered career-ending injuries
Fanone addressed the judge before she imposed the sentence. The former officer described how the Jan. 6 attack prematurely ended his law-enforcement career and turned him into a target for Donald Trump supporters who cling to the lie that Democrats stole the 2020 election from the Republican incumbent.
Fanone left the courtroom in the middle of Rodriguez's statement to the judge. He didn't miss an apology from Rodriguez, who has been jailed for more than two years and will get credit for that time already served.
"I'm hopeful that Michael Fanone will be OK some day," Rodriguez said. "It sounds like he's in a great deal of pain."
Fanone said he left the courtroom because he didn't care to hear his assailant's "rambling, incoherent" statement.
"Nothing he could have said to me today would have made any difference whatsoever," he said.
Fanone's injuries ultimately ended his career in law enforcement. He has written a book about his Jan. 6 experience and testified in front of a House committee that investigated the insurrection, which disrupted the joint session of Congress for certifying President Joe Biden's 2020 electoral victory.
Officer recounts vicious attack at U.S. Capitol riot hearing
Metropolitan D.C. police officer Michael Fanone testified Tuesday that rioters threatened to 'kill him with his own gun' during the January 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol. He lashed out at the 'indifference' shown by some elected U.S. lawmakers who have downplayed the riot.
"Rodriguez's criminal conduct on Jan. 6 was the epitome of disrespect for the law; he battled with law enforcement at the U.S. Capitol for hours, nearly costing one officer his life, in order to stop the official proceeding happening inside," prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
Rodriguez pleaded guilty to four felony charges, including conspiracy and assaulting a law enforcement officer with a deadly or dangerous weapon. He entered the guilty plea about two weeks before his trial was scheduled to start in Washington, D.C.
On Jan. 6, Rodriguez attended then-president Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally before joining the mob of rioters who attacked police in the Lower West Terrance tunnel.
"Rodriguez made his way to the front of the line of rioters battling the officers, yelling into his bullhorn at the beleaguered line," prosecutors wrote.
Rodriguez deployed a fire extinguisher at police officers in the tunnel and shoved a wooden pole at the police line before another rioter, Kyle Young, handed him what appeared to be a stun gun, according to prosecutors.
Young was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for his role in the officer's assault. Young grabbed Fanone by the wrist while others yelled, "Kill him!" and "Get his gun!"
After the assault, Rodriguez entered the building and smashed a window with a wooden pole before leaving Capitol grounds.
'Blindly' followed Trump, defence argues
During an interview with FBI agents after his March 2021 arrest, Rodriguez said he had believed he was doing the "right thing" on Jan. 6, and that he had been prepared to die to "save the country." He cried as he spoke to the agents, saying he was "stupid" and ashamed of his actions.
In the days leading up to Jan. 6, Rodriguez spewed violent rhetoric in a Telegram group chat called "PATRIOTS 45 MAGA Gang."
"There will be blood. Welcome to the revolution," Rodriguez wrote a day before the riot.
Oath Keepers founder gets 18 years in prison for Capitol riot crimes
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for his role in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack. It's the longest penalty yet for any crime committed in the attempted insurrection. The judge said Rhodes poses an ongoing threat to American democracy.
Rodriguez's attorneys said he idolized Trump, seeing the former president "as the father he wished he had."
"Mr. Rodriguez trusted Trump blindly and admired Trump so much that he referred to him as 'dad' in his social media chats leading up to Jan. 6," defence attorneys wrote, seeking a prison sentence of five years and five months for their client.
More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 riot. More than 700 of them have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trials. And approximately 550 of them have been sentenced, with over half receiving terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to 18 years.
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