Apr 26, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Utah man who filmed Ashli Babbitt's shooting sentenced over Jan. 6 riot

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

Rioters inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

A Utah man who claimed he was acting as a citizen journalist when he joined Jan. 6 rioters and filmed scenes inside the U.S. Capitol, including the fatal shooting of Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, was sentenced Friday to six years in prison.

The big picture: John Earle Sullivan, who prosecutors said earned more than $90,000 from selling his video footage of the Capitol breach, was convicted in November of several charges including felony obstruction of an official proceeding and civil disorder.

  • The 29-year-old from Salt Lake City was also sentenced to 36 months of supervised release and ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution, according to the Department of Justice.

Context: Sullivan, who was wearing a ballistic vest and gas mask when he joined rioters storming the Capitol, was heard on video yelling expletives, including "we're about to burn this s--t down!," "we're f--king s--t up" and "I'm gonna make these Trump supporters f--k all this s--t up," per court documents.

  • He told the mob he had a knife and offered it to them as he filmed them trying to break open doors to the House Chamber and the Speaker's Lobby, prosecutors said. Congress members, staff and journalists were inside the House of Representatives at the time.
  • Video evidence shows Sullivan climbing through a broken window at the Capitol building and eventually reaching the Speaker's Lobby, where he can be heard encouraging a mob breaking glass panes in the door and telling police officers to "go home" before Babbitt climbs through and is shot, per the DOJ.

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