A member of the Capitol mob who was armed with a handgun and carried equipment including plastic handcuffs during the Capitol violence was sentenced on Monday to over seven years in prison.
The rioter is Texas man Guy Reffitt, who was involved with the far-right extremist group known as the Three Percenters, and his sentence imposed on Monday by federal Judge Dabney Friedrich is 87 months, or seven years and three months in prison. Reffitt was the first member of the Capitol mob convicted at trial, where a jury found him guilty of five felony offenses, including one relating to a post-riot threat against family members of his that was meant to pressure them into silence about his involvement. Prosecutors sought 15 years for Reffitt and argued his conduct in the riot should be judged as terrorist in nature, but Friedrich raised concerns about the fact the request for a higher sentence in light of specific terrorism allegations wasn’t raised in other cases related to the Capitol riot in which defendants were accused of violence. She was mirroring arguments the defense made.
Reffitt’s sentence is, despite Friedrich’s refusal of the terrorism sentencing enhancement, the longest imposed so far on any rioter. The previous record was 63 months, a sentence that federal Judge Tanya Chutkan imposed on two rioters who assaulted police, including a D.C. man who attacked Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell. Reffitt recorded himself at a Trump rally that day in D.C. talking up the prospect of committing physical violence against specific targets, including Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi. Reffitt spoke of forcing Pelosi out of the Capitol, with the House Speaker’s “head hitting every step on the way down.” “He is in a class of his own so far as I’m aware in terms of what he was doing there that day, and what he claimed [that] he was there to do,” Friedrich remarked. Specific threats against specific targets were actually relatively consistent across the mob, no matter the nonetheless galling nature of what Reffitt did.
Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), a member of the House committee investigating the Capitol riot, said during public proceedings of that panel that a confidential source for the FBI indicated members of the far-right group known as the Proud Boys were prepared to kill Mike Pence if they could physically access him that day. It’s a trend of pushing towards extreme violence: “Reffitt sought not just to stop Congress, but also to physically attack, remove, and replace the legislators who were serving in Congress,” prosecutors said of the now sentenced defendant. At the Capitol, Reffitt struggled with law enforcement and was repeatedly hit with officers’ crowd control implements, and he also provided a sort of leadership to members of the mob, calling out encouragements for others to continue with the assault. Relevantly, he carried a megaphone. For whatever reason, Reffitt eventually gave up in his apparent push to get into the building and never went inside.
A daughter of Reffitt’s named Peyton targeted Trump in pushing for leniency in her dad’s sentencing. “My father’s name wasn’t on the flags that everyone was carrying there that day… There was another man’s name,” she said in court Monday.
Image: Brett Davis/ Creative Commons