The Washington Post

Air Force veteran sentenced to two years for Jan. 6


Soon after news outlets declared that Joe Biden had won the 2020 presidenti­al election, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel Larry R. Brock Jr. began calling for revolution.

“We need to execute the traitors that are trying to steal the election, and that includes the leaders of the media and social media aiding and abetting the coup plotters,” Brock wrote on Facebook on Nov. 8, 2020. “No way in hell we should accept this rigged election,” he wrote in December. “I think SCOTUS needs to see if they don’t act that there will be blood.” On Christmas Eve, he wrote, “I bought myself body armor and a helmet for the civil war that is coming.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, he showed up on the floor of the U.S. Senate wearing that helmet and body armor, and carrying zip-tie handcuffs he had picked up inside the Capitol. Though he did not physically attack any police officers, his attire that day and his earlier comments caused a federal judge to sentence him Friday to two years in prison for obstructin­g the congressio­nal certificat­ion of the electoral college vote.

Brock, 56, from Grapevine, Tex., graduated from the Air Force Academy and served nine years on active duty and another 16 years in the reserves as a pilot, and saw combat action in Afghanista­n, his lawyer’s sentencing brief stated.

As with thousands of others, Brock attended the “Stop the Steal” rally hosted by President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, then marched to the Capitol and entered. His lawyer, Charles Burnham, contended Brock did not know he wasn’t allowed in the Capitol that day, despite the rampant chaos.

Once in the Capitol, Brock spent about 37 minutes inside, investigat­ors determined, at one point scooping up zip-tie handcuffs that he was soon photograph­ed with, as well as a set of keys he used to try to open the door off the Senate chamber through which Vice President Mike Pence had exited just moments before.

When he reached the Senate floor, he loudly proclaimed, “This is our house!” Assistant U.S. Attorney April Ayers-perez wrote.

Soon after Brock’s photo appeared in the news media, his ex-wife called and identified him to federal authoritie­s, according to court records.

Brock chose a bench trial before U.S. District Judge John D. Bates rather than a jury trial. In November, Bates convicted Brock of six counts: the felony obstructio­n charge and five misdemeano­rs. The judge called it “unfathomab­le that Mr. Brock believed he was authorized” to be there. He “could look around and realize that he was part of a mob,” Bates said.

An initial sentencing guidelines calculatio­n by the federal probation office determined that Brock should face a sentencing range of 57 to 71 months, and prosecutor­s recommende­d the judge impose a 60-month term.

But the guidelines calculatio­n included an eight-level increase for causing or threatenin­g to cause physical or property damage. Bates ruled that the increase was inappropri­ate because Brock had not harmed anyone or damaged any property himself. The judge lowered the sentencing range to 24 to 30 months. AyersPerez still asked for a 60-month sentence.

Now came the time for Brock to speak to the judge. He declined. Burnham said Brock was still considerin­g an appeal of his conviction.

The judge said he would typically consider a sentence at the low end of the guidelines’ range in such a case. Then with Brock’s military service, lack of criminal history and his attempts to stop some rioters from causing further damage, “that would lead me to vary downward from the guidelines. But we have to take into account the rhetoric,” the judge said, reading off page after page of Brock’s angry Facebook posts.

“I think it’s especially reprehensi­ble and quite frankly unbelievab­le coming from a senior military officer,” the judge said. “It’s detailed, it’s consistent, it’s both astounding and atrocious. And we have no acceptance of responsibi­lity and no showing of remorse whatsoever. Zero.”

In addition to sentencing Brock to 24 months in prison, Bates ordered him to serve two years on supervised release after his sentence and to perform 100 hours of community service. As with nearly all Jan. 6 defendants, he was not taken into custody after sentencing and allowed to arrange his own surrender date.

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