Updated Aug 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Jan. 6 rioter sentenced to nearly 4 years for assaulting police

A view of the National Mall from the Capitol Building during the Jan. 6 riot.
Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Pennsylvania man who pleaded guilty to beating a police officer with a metal flagpole during the Jan. 6 riot was sentenced to 46 months in prison on Friday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Howard Richardson, 72, repeatedly hit an officer at the Capitol using a flagpole with a Trump flag attached, federal prosecutors said. He also helped other rioters throw a "very large metal billboard" toward a line of officers that day, according to a video cited in the government's sentencing memorandum against him.

  • Richardson didn't stop striking the officer with the flagpole until it broke in his hands, the DOJ said.
  • They added that Richardson had wrongly told FBI agents he was carrying a "Back the Blue" flag — a pro-police symbol — on Jan. 6, and not the Trump flag.

By the numbers: Federal prosecutors sought a 46-month prison sentence, three years of supervised release, and $2,000 in restitution from Richardson.

  • He had faced a statutory maximum of eight years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

What they're saying: Federal Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said during the sentencing hearing Friday that Richardson had understated his actions and misled the FBI, per NBC News.

  • "This is a serious offense," Kollar-Kotelly said, according to NBC. "The intent has to be to injure the officer, there's no other reason to do it."
  • “It was an insurrection, it was not a protest, and certainly not a peaceful one," the judge added.
  • Richardson apologized for his actions in court on Friday, saying he thought the riot was instead supposed to be a "celebration" to mark Republicans halting the certification of Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Background: Richardson, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, was arrested in November 2021 and pleaded guilty in April 2022.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say that Richardson is 72 years old (not 71).

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