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Man who injured police officer during Capitol riot is sentenced to 5 years in prison

A man in a red MAGA sweatshirt with other rioters in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.
This image from video from police-worn body camera and contained in the sentencing memorandum from the Justice Department shows John George Todd III in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
(U.S. Justice Department via AP)
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A military veteran who was convicted of injuring a police officer’s hand during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol was sentenced Friday to five years in prison.

John George Todd III declined to address the court before U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell sentenced him. The judge said Todd, a Marine Corps veteran, hasn’t shown any remorse for his role in damaging the country’s “fragile” democratic institutions.

“This is not a patriot. This is not conduct becoming of a Marine,” the judge told Todd, 34.

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Prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of 12 years and seven months for Todd, who traveled from his Missouri home to attend then-President Trump’s so-called “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on Jan. 6.

“As the country approaches another contentious election year, one that will see a rematch of the 2020 Presidential election that was at issue for the rioters on January 6, every January 6 sentencing sends a message about the importance of democratic values and the rule of law,” prosecutors wrote.

After entering the Capitol, Todd repeatedly pushed against officers inside the Rotunda, ignored commands to leave and screamed profanities at police.

Todd was carrying a fiberglass pole attached to a flag. When a Metropolitan Police Department officer tried to grab it from him, Todd and the officer wrestled for control of the pole until it splintered and cut the officer’s hand.

The officer, Noah Rathbun, needed seven stitches and missed nine days of work. Todd argued that the officer’s injuries were self-inflicted.

A different rioter, retired New York Police Department Officer Thomas Webster, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for attacking Rathbun outside the Capitol earlier that day. Webster swung a flagpole at Rathbun and then tackled him and grabbed his gas mask.

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Todd has been jailed since a jury in February convicted him of six counts, including obstruction of the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress for certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory over Trump.

A federal jury has convicted a New York Police Department veteran of assaulting an officer during the U.S. Capitol riot, rejecting his claim he was defending himself when he tackled the officer and grabbed his gas mask.

May 2, 2022

“This was a dangerous first, where the peaceful transition to a new presidential administration was disrupted,” the judge said.

Todd initially was charged with only misdemeanors, but a grand jury indicted him on felony charges after prosecutors discovered video of him assaulting Rathbun.

After his arrest, Todd repeatedly violated the terms of his pretrial release. He moved from Blue Springs, Mo., to South Carolina to be in his sister’s care.

Todd’s attorneys said he is a combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder who needs mental health treatment, not incarceration.

“Incarceration would only exacerbate Mr. Todd’s health and mental health problems,” a defense attorney wrote last year.

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Todd was a Marine from 2009 to 2013 and served in Afghanistan, his family said. Todd received an “other than honorable” discharge from the military related to his abuse of alcohol, according to prosecutors.

More than 100 police officers were injured during the riot.

Over 1,400 people have been charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes. Nearly 900 of them have been sentenced, with roughly two-thirds of them receiving a term of imprisonment ranging from a few days to 22 years.

Kunzelman writes for the Associated Press.

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