The Capitol rioter who grabbed former Metropolitan Police Department officer Mike Fanone and dragged him into the mob, where he was grievously injured, was sentenced Thursday in federal court to 90 months, or 7 1/2 years, behind bars.
Prosecutors had sought an eight-year sentence for Tennessee resident Albuquerque Cosper Head. However, his punishment is still one of the harshest to be handed down to any rioter so far. Fanone left law enforcement the year after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack and has become one of the most visible figures advocating for justice.
Asked for a reaction to the sentence, Fanone told HuffPost, “Like a real American, I accept the sentence handed down by the court.”
The longest sentence handed down to any rioters has been 10 years, given to a retired New York police officer who assaulted another law enforcement official.
Head agreed to a deal where he pleaded guilty to one felony count of assaulting a police officer. Prosecutors say he wrapped his arm around Fanone’s neck as officers tried to push rioters back through an archway leading into the Capitol and yelled, “I got one!” while pulling Fanone deeper into the mob.
Members of the crowd beat Fanone and pinned him down, seizing his police radio and badge. One person threatened to kill him with his service weapon. Fanone was tased repeatedly at the base of his skull by rioter Daniel Rodriguez, who was sentenced in September to slightly less time than Head ― 86 months.
The mob backed off after Fanone yelled, “I got kids!” He blacked out and regained consciousness to find his partner and others, trying to ensure he was alright.
Fanone ended up suffering a heart attack and a traumatic brain injury.
The public spotlight that found him in the wake of the riot eventually made keeping his job untenable, he explained in interviews to promote a memoir he released earlier this month.
“I would trade all this attention to return to policing,” Fanone said in court Thursday, per ABC News. “But I can’t do that. And the catalyst for the loss of my career and the suffering that I’ve endured in the past 18 months is Albuquerque Head.”
Judge Amy Berman Jackson pointed out the irony that Fanone was beaten in the crowd with a Blue Lives Matter flag, NBC News reported.
“People need to understand that they can’t do this, or anything like this, again. They can’t try to force their will on the American people once the American people have already spoken at the ballot box. That’s the opposite of democracy. It’s tyranny,” the judge said, per NBC.
Andy Campbell contributed to this report.