Judge: Sentence in Capitol riot case should send message

Politics

FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. The House committee investigating the violent Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, with its latest round of subpoenas in September 2021, may uncover the degree to which former President Donald Trump, his campaign and White House were involved in planning the rally that preceded the riot, which had been billed as a grassroots demonstration. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

A federal judge said Friday he hopes a three-month sentence behind bars in a U.S. Capitol insurrection case will send a message to other defendants who don’t seem to be “truly accepting responsibility.”

U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan spoke as he sentencedRobert Reeder, a Maryland man who had originally described himself as an “accidental tourist” before video emerged of him grabbing a police officer.

“It’s become evident to me that many of the defendants pleading guilty do not truly accept responsibility. They seem, to me, to be trying to get this out of the way as quickly as possible, stating whatever they have to say … but not changing their attitude,” Hogan said.

He said he believed Reeder is sorry now and sentenced him to half of the six months prosecutors had wanted, but the judge said some of Reeder’s previous statements had been “disingenuous and self-serving.” Hogan said he hopes the sentence sends a signal that people convicted in the riot will face jail time.

“This was an attack on the operations of Congress and the Capitol of the United States, a really sacrosanct building,” he said.

Reeder had been expected to get probation last month, after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor and saying he had not been involved in any violence that day. Then armchair detectives who call themselves Sedition Hunters unearthed the video online. Prosecutors said the recording captured an assault on an officer, though they opted not to file new charges.

Reeder said he touched or grabbed the officer’s shoulder, and forgot to mention it in previous FBI interviews where he voluntarily shared video with agents.

“Immediately after the interaction with the police officer I just wanted to get out of there. It just wasn’t me,” he said. “I’ve always been regretful and ashamed of being there, not because I’m in trouble but because I saw what happened and it was disgusting.”

More than 630 people have been chargedin the insurrection, where a pro-Trump mob beat and bloodied police in an effort to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. The throng sent lawmakers running for their lives and caused $1 million damage.

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