A 72-year-old Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to 46 months—or three years and 10 months—in federal prison for assaulting a police officer during protests at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The man, Howard C. Richardson, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, was sentenced in Washington on Aug. 26.
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly told Richardson, “Your presence and actions in joining other insurrectionists was an inexcusable attack on our democracy,” after he had told the court there was “no excuse” for his behavior and pleaded for mercy, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
On Jan. 6, 2021, Richardson was at the West Terrace standing several feet away from the police line. He held a flagpole and “forcefully swung it downward to strike an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department who was standing behind a metal barricade” at about 1:38 p.m, according to the Justice Department, citing court documents.
“Richardson then struck the officer two more times, using enough force to break the flagpole,” the Justice Department stated. “Then, moments later, he joined other rioters in pushing a large metal sign into a line of law enforcement officers.”
Richardson was arrested in Philadelphia on Nov. 30, 2021, and pleaded guilty on April 27 to assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers. He’ll be placed on three years of supervised release after his prison term and must pay $2,000 in restitution.
He never entered the Capitol, but prosecutors said his attack on a police officer warranted a lengthy prison term, the Inquirer reported.
According to the Justice Department, more than 860 people have been arrested across the country “for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol” in the 19 months since Jan. 6, 2021. More than 260 of these individuals were charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.
The investigations continue. The Justice Department is seeking a 17-year-sentence—which would be the longest prison sentence yet in any Jan. 6, 2021, case so far—for a former Marine and retired New York Police Department officer for his actions during the Capitol breach. Thomas Webster, 56, was found guilty by a federal jury in May on all counts—five felonies and one misdemeanor—that included “assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers using a deadly or dangerous weapon.”
On Jan. 6, 2021, lawmakers gathered for a joint session of Congress to count and certify the electoral votes related to the 2020 presidential election. It was temporarily interrupted when a sizable group of protesters and rioters entered the building and its surrounds. Thousands of other protesters, mostly peaceful, remained outside.
A total of five deaths were recorded in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, incident. Of the deaths, Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt was determined to have died from homicide on Jan. 6, having been shot and killed by Lt. Michael L. Byrd.
Another death involved a woman in her 30s, Rosanne Boyland. The D.C. medical examiner ruled her death as an accident from a drug overdose. But video unsealed in December 2021 confirmed that Boyland was crushed and trampled when the crowd of protesters was pushed out of the tunnel. She was then repeatedly struck by a police officer as she lay unconscious.
Another three people died of what were ultimately determined to be natural causes.