Capitol Rioter gets jail for attacks on journalist and police

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Pennsylvania man was sentenced Friday to nearly three years in prison for assaulting an Associated Press photographer and attacking police officers with a stun gun during the U.S. Capitol riot.

Alan Byerly apologized to his victims before US District Judge Randolph Moss sentenced him to two years and 10 months in prison followed by three years of probation. Byerly will be credited with the more than 15 months he has already spent behind bars since his arrest, according to his lawyers.

“I didn’t go to DC to hurt anyone,” Byerly told the judge.

Byerly, 55, pleaded guilty in July to assaulting AP photographer John Minchillo and then activating a stun gun as he charged at officers trying to hold back a crowd that had formed in outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

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Byerly said he was an “antagonistic fool” when he confronted the officers. He also said he assaulted Minchillo after hearing a voice say, “It’s antifa. Get him out of here.

Minchillo was wearing a lanyard with the lettering AP when Byerly and other rioters attacked him on the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol, according to a court filing accompanying Byerly’s guilty plea. Byerly grabbed Minchillo, shoved him back and dragged him toward a crowd, according to the record. Another AP photographer captured the assault on video.

“I should never have gotten involved, and I’m deeply sorry for my actions,” Byerly said.

Prosecutors have requested a sentence of at least three years and 10 months in prison, followed by three years of probation. Defense attorneys have asked for a sentence lower than an estimated range of 37 to 46 months in prison.

Moss said he thinks Byerly is genuinely remorseful for his role in the mob’s “assault on democracy.” The judge said it was clear Byerly couldn’t have hurt anyone with the cheap stun gun he brought to the Capitol, but officers couldn’t know that given the sound it made.

“They were clearly scared of it,” Moss said. “It no doubt added to the fear the officers felt that day.”

Minchillo “must have been extremely scared too,” the judge added.

None of Byerly’s victims attended his sentencing hearing.

Byerly purchased the stun gun before traveling from his home in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania to Washington, DC, for the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6. side of the Capitol and joined other rioters in using a metal Trump billboard as a battering ram against police, prosecutors said.

Later, Byerly approached officers from behind bike racks and deployed his stun gun. After officers grabbed the stun gun from Byerly, he charged them, punched and pushed them and grabbed an officer’s baton, prosecutors said. One of the officers fell and landed on his hands trying to restrain Byerly.

Defense attorneys said the stun gun model Byerly purchased for $24.99 was considered “junk” by engineering experts.

“Furthermore, shortly after purchasing the device, Mr. Byerly had accidentally activated it on himself and therefore knew that it could not cause injury or even pain,” the attorneys wrote. defense in a court case.

Other rioters helped him evade capture that day, but Byerly was arrested in July 2021. He told FBI agents he only did “one stupid thing there and that was it,” according to prosecutors.

“It was a reference to how he treated the reporter and nothing more,” they wrote in a court filing.

Byerly, a carpenter by trade and father of four children, remains in detention since his arrest more than 15 months ago.

About 900 people have been charged with federal crimes for their conduct on Jan. 6. More than 420 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors. Nearly 300 were convicted, about half of whom were sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven days to 10 years, according to a review of court records by the AP.

More than 100 police officers were injured in the January 6 riot. More than 270 defendants have been charged with assaulting, resisting or obstructing Capitol officers or employees, according to the Justice Department. Byerly is one of several defendants charged with assaulting members of the media or destroying their equipment at the Capitol.

For full coverage of the Capitol Riot, go to https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege

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