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Jan. 6 rioter who used a stun gun on Officer Michael Fanone sentenced to prison

Former Washington Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone pictured in Washington, D.C., July 21, 2022.
J. Scott Applewhite
/
AP
Former Washington Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone pictured in Washington, D.C., July 21, 2022.

The California man who used a stun gun on Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot has been sentenced to 12.5 years in prison, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Daniel Joseph "DJ" Rodriguez, 40, of Fontana, Calif., pled guilty to several charges in February. He was officially sentenced to "conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding, obstruction of justice, and assaulting a law enforcement officer with a deadly or dangerous weapon,"the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia said in a statement.

In addition to his prison sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered another 36 months of supervised release and for Rodriguez to pay $2,000 in restitution to the Architect of the Capitol and $96,927 to the Metropolitan Police Department for damages to Fanone.

In the fall of 2020, Rodriguez was part of a group that started a Telegram chat called PATRIOTS45MAGA Gang, which brought together supporters of then-President Trump. It "became a forum for Rodriguez's plans for violence against the seat of the federal government," according to court documents.

Rodriguez and other members of the group traveled from California to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, for a "Stop the Steal" rally on the National Mall. He entered the Capitol and, according to court documents, "video footage taken from the incident depicts Rodriguez at the first set of double doors of the Capitol building facing the police line and deploying a fire extinguisher at the line of officers present."

He was then seen using a long wooden pole and shoving it toward officers in the line, the documents said.

"After Rodriguez returned to the lower west terrace tunnel, court documents state that video footage taken from the scene of the incident depicts one rioter, Albuquerque Head, wrapping his arm around the neck of an MPD officer and dragging the officer out on to the steps of the lower west terrace," the statement said. "Rodriguez is then seen making his way toward the officer and, with the electroshock weapon in hand, plunging it into the officer's neck. As the officer attempted to escape, court records state that Rodriguez struck again, placing the electroshock weapon on the back of the officer's neck."

That officer was later identified as Fanone. He served on the Metropolitan Police Department Officer for nearly two decades before resigning nearly a year after the attack at the U.S. Capitol.

Fanone has spoken publicly about what he experienced that day. He was tased repeatedly while the attacking mob threatened to shoot him with his own gun, before being pulled to safety. Doctors later told him he suffered a mild heart attack from this experience, he's said.

After attacking Fanone, Rodriguez entered the Capitol, vandalizing offices, ransacking rooms, breaking windows and stealing items, prosecutors said. During all of this, he continued to update other members of his Telegram group of his assault on Fanone and the other law enforcement officers on scene that day.

In the 29 months since the Jan. 6 riot, more than 1,000 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol; nearly 350 people have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation is ongoing.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, convicted of seditious conspiracy and other felonies, was sentenced to 18 years — the longest sentence so far related to Jan. 6 crimes.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jaclyn Diaz