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