A butcher from Maine who attacked five police officers during the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, was sentenced on Thursday to more than seven years in prison.
The butcher, Kyle Fitzsimons, arrived at the Capitol that day in a distinctive outfit: a traditional white coat, black apron and rubber boots. Mr. Fitzsimons, a recreational trapper, also carried a six-foot long unstrung archery and fur draped across his neck.
Approaching a tunnel on the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol, prosecutors say, Mr. Fitzsimons, 39, threw his bow like a spear at a crowd of officers, striking one in the head. Over the next few minutes, he attacked four more officers in a spree of aggression that led prosecutors to describe him in recent court papers as “one of the most violent” rioters.
Mr. Fitzsimons’ sentence, handed down by Judge Rudolph Contreras in the Federal District Court in Washington, was one of a growing list of harsh sentences given to rioters who attacked the police on January 6.
In May, Peter Schwartz, a Pennsylvania welder who threw a chair at officers and then attacked them with a chemical spray, was sentenced to slightly more than 14 years in prison. Last month, Daniel Rodriguez, a Trump supporter from California who twice shoved a Taser into the neck of officer Michael Fanone, received a term of more than 12 years.
On Wednesday, Daniel Lyons Scott, a member of the Pride Boys who “bulldozed two officers,” prosecutors said, while leading a charge against the police outside the Capitol, was sentenced to five years in prison.
Mr. Fitzsimons was sentenced the same day another Jan. 6 defendant, Alan Hostetter, a former Southern California police chief, was convicted of four counts, including conspiracy to interfere with the certification of the 2020 election that took place at the Capitol that day. Mr. Hostetter, who acted as his own lawyer during the week-long trial, put conspiracy theories at the heart of his defense, arguing unsuccessfully that the federal government planned the Capitol attack.
Mr Fitzsimons was convicted at a bench trial in September of 11 offences, including the assaults. Prosecutors asked for a 15-year sentence, noting in court documents that the sentence was needed because of Mr. Fitzsimons’ “utter lack of remorse, his efforts to profit from his crime and the urgent need to discourage others from engaging in political violence. “
In one attack, prosecutors said, Mr. Fitzsimons repeatedly struck an officer, trying to knock him out and get his gas mask off. He then grabbed another officer, Aquilino Gonell, and pulled his shoulder so hard that it ended his career.
After that, prosecutors said, Mr. Fitzsimons lashed out twice at yet another group of officers, swinging his fists wildly and “indiscriminately trying to punch any officer he could get his hands on.” Finally, on leaving the battle, Mr. Fitzsimons seemed to celebrate the attacks he had made.
When another mob member stopped him and said, “You’re an American hero, buddy,” he replied, “My name is Kyle Fitzsimons.” Prosecutors said he “wanted recognition and notoriety for what he did.”
Addressing Judge Contreras, Mr Fitzsimons said he had abdicated his “duty to generations before and after me” by contributing to the violence and vowed never to repeat his offences. Through tears, he apologized to Mr. Gonell, who appeared in court Thursday carrying a $21,175 medical bill related to his injuries, which he told Judge Contreras he could not pay.
The judge said he believed Mr Fitzsimons’ willingness to attack uniformed police officers amid an “orgy of assault rage” showed he was susceptible to emotional outbursts and groupthink and remained an “inherently dangerous” person. He also questioned how Mr. Fitzsimons and others like him might react to the upcoming presidential election, in which former President Donald J. Trump is once again a vocal contender.
During one of several interviews he gave from prison, Mr. Fitzsimons used the phrase “Don’t give up the ship,” prosecutors said, as a way to encourage his listeners to spread the “false narrative” that he and others on Jan. 6 . defendants were “politically persecuted for their beliefs, not their conduct.”
In a letter sent to the court, Mr. Gonell asked Judge Contreras to hold Mr. Fitzsimons accountable for his attacks to prevent “another January 6.”
“Downplaying what happened and not punishing the violent mob for their roles would be more likely to happen again,” he wrote. “Everything that my fellow officers and I sacrificed would be desecrated. We defended the Capitol, not from a foreign entity, but from Americans who attacked us.”