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Capitol rioter who attacked police is sentenced to more than 5 years in prison

A police car drives away from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Spencer Platt
Getty Images
A police car drives away from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

A Florida man who used a wooden plank and a fire extinguisher to attack police defending the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 has been sentenced to more than five years in prison.

The 63-month sentence for Robert Palmer, handed down by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, is the longest yet for a defendant in the Capitol riot investigation.

Palmer was indicted on eight counts but pleaded guilty to a single charge of assaulting police with a dangerous weapon. On Jan. 6, he was on the front lines as the pro-Trump mob fought police and ultimately stormed the Capitol.

Court papers say Palmer, wearing a red hat and an American flag jacket, threw a wooden plank at officers protecting an entrance on the Capitol's west side. A little later, Palmer sprayed a fire extinguisher at the police and then heaved the extinguisher at them.

At his sentencing hearing Friday, Palmer told the court that he recently watched a video of his actions on Jan. 6.

"I'm really ashamed of what I did," he said, and he swore that he would never attend another political rally.

Chutkan told Palmer that the cops defending the Capitol and the people who kept democracy functioning on Jan. 6 were heroes and that they "don't deserve to be attacked."

In handing down her sentence, Chutkan said it has to be made clear that "trying to stop the peaceful transition of power and assaulting law enforcement officers is going to be met with certain punishment."

Before Palmer's sentencing, the longest sentence for an individual charged in connection with the Capitol riot had been 41 months. Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon shaman, and former gym owner Scott Fairlamb both received 41 months after pleading guilty to obstructing an official proceeding.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.

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