Rioter Who Assaulted Officer Goodman Sentenced To Prison

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New York resident Greg Rubenacker has been sentenced to nearly three and a half years in prison for his role in the Trump-inspired attack on the Capitol. Rubenacker’s sentence is 41 months, and he was also hit with three years of probation and a $2,000 fine. At the Capitol, Rubenacker was among the riot participants who chased U.S. Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman up multiple flights of stairs in widely circulated footage.

That confrontation between Goodman and a portion of the rioting crowd took place near the Senate chamber, and Goodman’s quick thinking that ended up seeing him lead nearby rioters away from the chamber has been widely hailed. After participating in that confrontation with Goodman, Rubenacker left the Capitol building, but he soon afterwards went back inside and recorded himself smoking marijuana in the Rotunda. Rubenacker eventually sprayed water from a bottle he was carrying at officers. He also swung what sounds like that same bottle at an officer’s head, and he subsequently pleaded guilty to ten criminal offenses including three felonies, one of which was assaulting, resisting, or impeding law enforcement. Rubenacker left the Capitol a second time after law enforcement deployed chemical spray against rioters. The jail-time imposed by federal Judge Beryl Howell was within the non-binding sentencing guidelines covering Rubenacker’s case of 41-51 months.

Goodman submitted what’s known as a victim impact statement in Rubenacker’s case, although the text of that statement is not publicly available. Although other officers involved in the defense of the Capitol have been involved in other court proceedings over individual rioters’ actions, this occasion is the first time Goodman has submitted such a statement. Lawyer Michaelangelo Matera, representing Rubenacker, argued against the consideration of Goodman’s statement, arguing the victim of Rubenacker’s offense of obstruction of an official proceeding — roughly covering what he did around the time of the confrontation with Goodman — was the government. The lawyer also singled out Goodman’s apparent references to accounts from fellow officers about trauma they’ve experienced, questioning the accuracy of what Goodman relayed.

Howell shut all that nonsense down — “[Goodman] does refer to feelings of fear, nightmares, needing mental health treatment… [The] feelings continue to linger, people who work there continue to suffer from what was experienced on January 6. Although Officer Goodman doesn’t share that he too is feeling all those things, I agree with the government that based on what I’ve seen from the video, it is not a far leap to appreciate the terror that the police officers who were overwhelmed that day [felt], and particularly Officer Goodman who was chased up the stairs by an angry mob until he found his colleagues… I think that qualifies him as a victim of this mob action on January 6,” Howell remarked. “In any event, even if Officer Goodman doesn’t technically meet the definition of a ‘crime victim,’ I have full discretion [to consider his statement], and I will do so,” the judge also said. Matera and Rubenacker also pointed to the potential impact of prison time on the defendant’s supposed music career. The defense wanted 12 months of house arrest — no jail.

Featured Image via Brett Davis on Flickr, available under a Creative Commons license