Man who dragged officer into mob of rioters on Jan. 6 sentenced to 7½ years in prison
A Tennessee rioter who dragged a police officer into a mob, initiating some of the most harrowing violence of the U.S. Capitol attack, was sentenced Thursday to more than seven years years in prison.
Albuquerque Cosper Head, 43, declined to address the court before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced him to seven years and six months behind bars plus three years of supervised release. She said Head was responsible for “some of the darkest acts committed on one of our nation’s darkest days.”
The sentence, six months shy of the statutory maximum, is the second-longest stemming from Jan. 6, 2021, when supporters of then-President Trump stormed the building as Congress prepared to certify President-elect Biden’s victory.
“The dark shadow of tyranny unfortunately has not gone away,” Jackson said. “There are people who are still disseminating the lie that the election was stolen. ... The people who are stoking that anger for their own
selfish purposes, they need to think about the havoc they’ve wreaked, the lives they’ve ruined.”
Key takeaways from Thursday’s hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Head repeatedly assaulted police officers who were guarding a tunnel at the Capitol, according to prosecutors.
Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone was among those guarding the tunnel entrance when Head grabbed him. Head yelled, “I’ve got one!” as he wrapped his arms around Fanone’s neck and dragged him into the crowd, prosecutors said.
“He was your prey. He was your trophy,” Jackson told Head, 43.
Head restrained Fanone as other rioters beat and shocked the officer with a stun gun at the base of his skull. Fanone lost consciousness during the assault.
“Although Head was separated from Officer Fanone in the moments that followed, [he] would have been able to hear the sound of the taser being activated again, Officer Fanone’s screams of agony, and the yells from another rioter to ‘Kill him with his own gun!’” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Fanone said the assault caused a heart attack and a traumatic brain injury and cost him his career. He has written a book about the experience and testified at a House Jan. 6 committee hearing.
“I would trade all of this attention to return to policing, but I can’t do that,” he said. “And the catalyst for my loss of career and the suffering that I’ve endured in the past 18 months is Albuquerque Head.”
Other rioters have been charged with assaulting Fanone, including Kyle Young, an Iowa man who grabbed Fanone by the wrist while others yelled, “Kill him!” and “Get his gun!” Jackson sentenced Young last month to seven years and two months in prison.
Daniel “D.J.” Rodriguez, a California man charged with using the stun gun on Fanone, is scheduled to go on trial in February. Thomas Sibick, a riot defendant from New York, is charged with stealing the officer’s badge and police radio during the melee.
Head, a construction worker from Kingsport, Tenn., was arrested in April 2021 and pleaded guilty to an assault charge this May. His criminal record includes about 45 previous arrests.
Fanone joined prosecutors in asking the judge to impose the maximum sentence of eight years. He said Head initially told him, “I’m going to try to help you out here” before shouting that he “got one.”
“I would ask you to show Mr. Head the same mercy that he showed me on Jan. 6, which, in case there’s any question in this courtroom, is none,” Fanone said.
Head’s attorney, Nicholas Wallace, requested a five-year prison sentence.
“There is no evidence that Mr. Head made advance plans with much effort or that he came to D.C. prepared for a battle. His series of bad decisions, as outlined above, while serious, is far from the worst conduct that day,” Wallace wrote.
Head told FBI agents he had driven to Washington for the rally outside the White House where Trump addressed a crowd of supporters. Joining the mob at the tunnel, Head wielded a riot shield as a weapon and used a second shield to shove against Fanone and other officers, according to prosecutors.
“When Officer Fanone used his hand to brace himself on the doorframe in the midst of the struggle, Head struck the officer’s hand with his own hand, causing the officer to lose his grip on the doorframe,” prosecutors wrote.
After he pulled Fanone into the crowd, Head became separated from the officer. When others in the crowd surrounded Fanone to protect him from his assailants, Head repeatedly reached toward the officer and tried to grab him again, prosecutors said. Fanone’s body camera video showed him collapsing after his protectors escorted him back to the police line.
Fanone’s partner tried to revive him, saying, “Come on, Mike. Come on, buddy. We’re going duck hunting soon.”
Fanone regained consciousness after nearly 2½ minutes and asked, “Did we take that door back?”
“The courage and sacrifice that Officer Fanone showed on that day is incredible, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for what he has lost,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Cara Gardner told the judge.
About 900 people have been charged with federal crimes for their conduct on Jan. 6. More than 430 have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors. Over 300 have been sentenced, about half of them to prison terms ranging from seven days to 10 years, according to an Associated Press review of court records.
More than 100 police officers were injured at the Capitol on Jan. 6. About 20 defendants have been sentenced for assaulting police, the Justice Department says.
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