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US Capitol Riot: Mob Leader Gets 7-year Jail Term For Attack On Police Officers

Taylor James Johnatakis, 40, of Kingston, Washington, used a megaphone to direct rioters and issue commands as they overwhelmed law enforcement personnel guarding the Capitol.
 US Capitol Riot: Mob Leader Gets 7-year Jail Term For Attack On Police Officers

This image from police body-worn camera video shows Taylor James Johnatakis using a megaphone to orchestrate an attack on police officers guarding the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Department of Justice via AP)

A man who led an assault on police officers during the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison on Wednesday. Taylor James Johnatakis, 40, of Kingston, Washington, was captured on video using a megaphone to direct rioters and issue commands as they overwhelmed law enforcement personnel guarding the Capitol.

“In any angry mob, there are leaders and there are followers. Mr. Johnatakis was a leader. He knew what he was doing that day,” said U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth while handing down the 87-month sentence.

Prosecutors argued that Johnatakis, a self-employed septic system installer, deserved a nine-year prison term for his actions, which included leading rioters in a charge against police officers and providing detailed instructions for overpowering them using his megaphone. Videos showed Johnatakis at the front lines, shouting “Go!” before he and others shoved a metal barricade into a line of officers.

A jury convicted Johnatakis in November 2023 on seven charges, including the felonies of obstructing an official proceeding, civil disorder, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers. He was also found guilty of several misdemeanor offenses related to his unlawful presence and conduct at the Capitol.

During the sentencing hearing, Johnatakis used rhetoric associated with the anti-government “sovereign citizen” movement and asked the judge questions, including, “Does the record reflect that I repent in my sins?” Judge Lamberth dismissed such inquiries as “gobbledygook.”

Prosecutors asserted that Johnatakis has shown no genuine remorse or acceptance of responsibility for his crimes on January 6, with one prosecutor stating, “He’s going so far as to portray himself as a persecuted victim.”

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The judge emphasized the gravity of Johnatakis’ actions, stating, “There can be no room in our country for this sort of political violence.” He also noted receiving over 20 letters from Johnatakis’ relatives and friends, some of whom appeared unaware of the full extent of his criminal conduct that day.

Johnatakis’ sentencing is part of the ongoing federal prosecution of individuals involved in the January 6 attack, which aimed to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory. To date, approximately 1,350 people have been charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes, with over 800 of them having received sentences ranging from several days to 22 years in prison.

(With inputs from AP)
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