AP

Man who used stun gun on cop in Jan. 6 riot pleads guilty

Feb 13, 2023, 7:34 PM | Updated: Feb 14, 2023, 1:13 pm

FILE - Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021...

FILE - Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. Daniel “DJ” Rodriguez, of Fontana, Calif., pleaded guilty on Tuesday to using a stun gun to attack a Washington D.C. police officer who was brutally injured while trying to defend the U.S. Capitol from the angry mob of President Donald Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

A California man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to using a stun gun to attack a Washington, D.C., police officer who was brutally injured while trying to defend the U.S. Capitol from the angry mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters on Jan. 6, 2021.

Daniel Rodriguez, 40, of Fontana, admitted to taking part in the violent assault on former Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone after another rioter dragged the officer into the crowd outside the tunnel where police were trying to beat back the mob. Fanone, who at one point lost consciousness and suffered a heart attack, was heard on camera screaming that he has kids in a desperate appeal for his life as other rioters beat him.

Rodriguez’s guilty plea comes about two weeks before jury selection was supposed to begin in his trial in Washington’s federal court. He pleaded guilty in Washington’s federal court to four felony charges including conspiracy and assaulting a law enforcement officer with a deadly or dangerous weapon.

An email seeking comment was sent to his lawyers on Tuesday. He’s scheduled to be sentenced in May. Federal sentencing guidelines call for about seven to 10 years in prison, according to court papers.

Rodriguez admitted in an interview with FBI agents after his arrest in March 2021 that he drove a stun gun into Fanone’s neck. Rodriguez told agents that he had believed that he was doing the “right thing” on Jan. 6 and that he had been prepared to die to “save the country.” He cried as he spoke to the agents, saying he was “stupid” and ashamed by his actions.

Rodriguez’s attorneys had tried unsuccessfully to block prosecutors from using his FBI interview at trial, arguing that the agents used “psychologically coercive tactics” to get him to talk.

Authorities say Rodriguez and others were part of a Telegram group chat called “PATRIOTS 45 MAGA Gang” in the run-up to Jan. 6 in which they advocated violence and discussed what they viewed as a stolen election. In one post on Dec. 29, 2020, Rodriguez wrote in the chat: “Congress can hang. I’ll do it. Please let us get these people dear God,” according to charging papers.

At the Capitol, Rodriguez was part of the mob that pushed into the tunnel where officers were trying to fend off the rioters, prosecutors said. Inside the tunnel, another rioter handed him the stun gun that he would later apply to the back of Fanone’s neck, according to court papers. After assaulting Fanone, Rodriguez entered the Capitol through a broken window. Later, he texted his friends: “Tazzed the (expletive) out of the blue,” they said.

Others charged with assaulting Fanone include Albuquerque Cosper Head, who wrapped his arms around Fanone’s neck and dragged him into the crowd outside the tunnel. Head restrained Fanone while other rioters attacked him. Head was sentenced in October to more than seven years in prison after pleading guilty to an assault charge.

Fanone said at Head’s sentencing that he suffered a heart attack and a traumatic brain injury and that his injuries ultimately cost him his career. He has written a book about his Jan. 6 experience and testified at a hearing held by the House committee investigating the insurrection.

Another man, Kyle Young, who helped in the sustained assault on the officer, was sentenced in September to seven years and two months in prison. Young grabbed the officer by the wrist while others yelled, “Kill him!” and “Get his gun!”

They are among the longest sentences that have been handed down so far in the riot.

Nearly 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 riot. More than 500 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors. Approximately 400 have been sentenced, with over half getting terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to 10 years.

_____

Richer reported from Boston. Associated Press reporter Michael Kunzelman contributed from Washington.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

15 hours ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

16 hours ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

2 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

3 days ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

3 days ago

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

5 days ago

Man who used stun gun on cop in Jan. 6 riot pleads guilty