An Arizona man who was seen inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 wearing horns should be sentenced to over four years in prison despite committing no violence that day, government prosecutors told a judge in a sentencing memorandum late Tuesday.
Jacob Chansley, known as the “QAnon shaman,” should also receive three years of supervised release and be forced to pay $2,000 in restitution, prosecutors said.
Chansley was charged with six counts and pleaded guilty to one, obstruction of an official proceeding. Surveillance footage and bystander video showed Chansley enter the Senate chamber on Jan. 6 and sit at the desk of Vice President Mike Pence, who was rushed from the area after the Capitol was breached.
Chansley was part of the crowd that pushed past law enforcement officers and entered the Upper West Terrace of the Capitol before entering the building through broken windows, prosecutors say. He was among the first 30 rioters to breach the building, according to court documents.
Once inside, Chansley was seen challenging a U.S. Capitol Police officer to let the crowd pass and entered the Senate chamber gallery alone, screaming obscenities like “time’s up [expletive].” He soon made his way to the Senate floor, where he sat at the Senate dais less than an hour after Pence had vacated the seat. He said that Pence “is a [expletive] traitor.”
Chansley was escorted from the chamber about one hour after entering it.
While Chansley lacks a criminal history and is not accused of being violent, he did carry a six-foot-long spear and threaten to cause physical injury to another person, prosecutors said while pushing for a 51-month prison sentence. They also said Chansley’s criminal acts “have made him the public face of the Capitol riot” and described him as “one of the most prominent figures” in the tumult.
Chansley’s comments before, during, and after the riot showed a lack of remorse and the belief he did nothing wrong, the government says. “The severity of his actions, and respect for the laws of this country, must be impressed upon him,” prosecutors wrote to U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, a Reagan nominee.
In a competing memorandum, Chansley’s lawyer Albert Watkins highlighted how his client cooperated with federal law enforcement following the breach and apologized for his actions on Feb. 8. He also said Chansley, a Navy veteran, suffered from mental health issues, as evidenced by him going shirtless on a wintery day.
“The events that led Mr. Chansley to do what he did on January 6, 2021, antedate his presence in the Capitol. He was not an organizer. He was not a planner. He was not violent. He was not destructive. He was not a thief,” Watkins wrote to the judge.
“Instead, the actions of Mr. Chansley on January 6, 2021, resulted from a host of issues and traumas,” stemming in part from a father who struggled with drugs and alcohol and an abusive stepfather, he added.
A psychiatric evaluation ordered by the court revealed that Chansley has Schizotypal Personality Disorder, a mental disorder.
Chansley’s time in prison since being arrested has negatively impacted him and he would be better served getting treatment outside of a jail cell, his lawyer argued. Chansley has already served over 300 days in jail.
“Defendant respectfully requests that the court impose a sentence significantly below the range of sentencing recommended under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, recognizing the harshness of the conditions surrounding time served to date, and impose such sentence as permits Mr. Chansley to proceed hence with his pursuit of his mental and physical health prioritized, and for such other and further relief and conditions as the court deems just and meet in the unique circumstances herein,” Watkins concluded.
Sentencing is set to take place in federal court in Washington on Nov. 17.
The memos came a day before Lamberth sentenced Scott Fairlamb—who pled guilty to assaulting law enforcement on Jan. 6—to 41 months in prison. Prosecutors had asked for slightly more time while the defense requested 11 months, which would amount to time served.