US Capitol rioter handed down toughest sentence yet

Man who attacked police officers during January 6 insurrection sentenced to more than five years in prison

Robert Palmer of Largo, Florida, wept as he expressed remorse for his actions. AP

A Capitol rioter who attacked police officers working to hold back the pro-Trump mob on January 6 was sentenced on Friday to more than five years behind bars, the most so far for anyone sentenced in the insurrection.

Robert Palmer of Largo, Florida, wept as he told US District Judge Tanya Chutkan that he recently watched a video of his actions that day and could not believe what he was seeing.

“Your Honour, I’m really really ashamed of what I did,” he said through tears.

Palmer was one of several rioters sentenced on Friday in a District of Columbia court for participation in the mob that tried to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory following a rally held by Donald Trump, the president at the time.

Scores of police were beaten and bloodied, five people died and there was about $1.5 million in damage done to the US Capitol.

Palmer is the 65th person to be sentenced overall. More than 700 people have been charged.

He made his way to the front line during the chaos and started to attack, throwing a wooden plank, spraying a fire extinguisher, then hurling it when it was depleted. He rooted around for other objects, prosecutors said and was briefly pepper-sprayed by police before he attacked officers again with a pole. He pleaded guilty to attacking officers.

In a handwritten letter to the judge, he said that he felt betrayed by Mr Trump and his allies who fed them conspiracy theories.

“Trump supporters were lied to by those at the time who had great power,” he wrote. “They kept spitting out the false narrative about a stolen election and how it was ‘our duty’ to stand up to tyranny.”

Before Palmer’s sentencing of 63 months, the longest prison term handed down for a Capitol rioter was 41 months, received by both Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man who wore a horned fur hat and face paint inside the Capitol; and New Jersey gym owner Scott Fairlamb, the first person to be sentenced for assaulting a law enforcement officer during the riot.

“It has to be made clear … trying to stop the peaceful transition of power and assaulting law enforcement officers is going to be met with certain punishment,” the judge said.

“There are going to be consequences. I’m not making an example of you. I’m sentencing you for the conduct you did.”

Updated: December 17th 2021, 8:53 PM