Washington, D.C., USA – In a significant ruling, Kyle Fitzsimons, a Maine butcher who viciously assaulted five police officers during the January 6 Capitol riot, has been sentenced to over seven years in federal prison. This sentencing coincided with the conviction of a California man who centered his trial defense around conspiracy theories linked to the Capitol attack.
On the fateful day of January 6, 2021, Kyle Fitzsimons arrived at the Capitol clad in a distinctive ensemble consisting of a traditional white coat, a black apron, and rubber boots. In addition, Fitzsimons, an avid recreational trapper, was seen carrying an unstrung archery bow measuring six feet in length, as well as a fur pelt draped across his neck, reports the New York Times.
Prosecutors revealed that as Fitzsimons approached a tunnel at the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace, he callously hurled his bow like a spear at a crowd of officers, striking one in the head. Over the ensuing minutes, he launched a spree of aggression, assaulting four additional officers in a series of attacks described by prosecutors as “one of the most violent” displays witnessed during the riot.
The stern sentencing delivered by Judge Rudolph Contreras in the Federal District Court of Washington is part of a growing trend of severe penalties imposed on individuals who targeted law enforcement officers during the January 6 incident.
Previously, in May, Pennsylvania welder Peter Schwartz received a sentence of slightly over 14 years in prison for hurling a chair at officers and subsequently attacking them with chemical spray. Furthermore, last month, Daniel Rodriguez, a Trump supporter from California, was sentenced to over 12 years behind bars for driving a Taser into Officer Michael Fanone’s neck on two separate occasions.
The bloodied face of Kyle Fitzsimons, a butcher who attacked police officers on Jan. 6, 2021, became a memorable image of the insurrection. A judge supplied the last line of the caption for that image, ordering him to spend more than seven years in prison. https://t.co/t1WVQccmLU
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 14, 2023
This Wednesday, Daniel Lyons Scott, a member of the Proud Boys, was sentenced to five years in prison for leading an assault on the police outside the Capitol, according to the Associated Press, resulting in injuries to two officers.
Coinciding with Fitzsimons’s sentencing, another Jan. 6 defendant, Alan Hostetter, a former Southern California police chief, was convicted on four charges, including conspiracy to obstruct the certification of the 2020 election at the Capitol. Despite his self-representation during the weeklong trial, Hostetter’s defense, centering on conspiracy theories alleging that the federal government had orchestrated the attack, proved unsuccessful.
Fitzsimons had previously been found guilty in a bench trial conducted in September, where he faced 11 charges, including the assaults on the officers. Prosecutors had urged the court to impose a 15-year sentence, citing Fitzsimons’s “complete lack of remorse, attempts to profit from his crime, and the urgent need to deter others from engaging in political violence.”
One of Fitzsimons’s attacks involved repeated swiping at an officer in an attempt to strike him and dislodge his gas mask. He subsequently seized another officer, Aquilino Gonell, wrenching his shoulder so severely that it ended his career. Afterward, Fitzsimons charged at a group of officers twice, wildly swinging his fists and indiscriminately attempting to assault any officer within reach. Shockingly, he seemed to celebrate his acts of violence once he withdrew from the chaotic scene.
When approached by another member of the mob who hailed him as an “American hero,” Fitzsimons responded, “My name is Kyle Fitzsimons,” conveying his desire for recognition and notoriety, reported WMTW. Prosecutors highlighted his craving for acknowledgment and fame stemming from his criminal acts.
While addressing Judge Contreras, Fitzsimons expressed regret for his actions, acknowledging his failure to uphold his responsibility to past and future generations. He pledged never to repeat his offenses, shedding tears as he apologized to Mr. Gonell, who attended the court session carrying a medical bill totaling $21,175 related to his injuries, which he admitted he was unable to pay.
The judge deemed Fitzsimons’s willingness to attack uniformed police officers amid a frenzy of assaultive rage as evidence of his susceptibility to emotional outbursts and groupthink, ultimately branding him an “inherently dangerous” individual. Judge Contreras also raised concerns about how Fitzsimons and others like him might respond to the upcoming presidential election, particularly with former President Donald J. Trump once again assuming a vocal role.
During one of several interviews Fitzsimons gave from jail, prosecutors cited his use of the saying “Don’t give up the ship” as a means to encourage his listeners to propagate the “false narrative” that he and other Jan. 6 defendants were “being politically persecuted for their beliefs, not their conduct.”
In a letter submitted to the court, Officer Gonell implored Judge Contreras to hold Fitzsimons accountable for his attacks to prevent the occurrence of another January 6-like event.
“Downplaying what transpired and failing to punish the violent mob for their actions would make a repetition more likely,” he wrote. “Everything my fellow officers and I sacrificed would be desecrated. We defended the Capitol not against a foreign entity but against fellow Americans who attacked us.”