July 19, 2024

A North Carolina man who failed to show up in court after being found guilty last year of assaulting police officers during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was sentenced on Tuesday to six years in prison, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department said.

The man, David Joseph Gietzen, of Sanford, N.C., was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after being found guilty by a jury in August of five felonies and three misdemeanors. On Jan. 6, according to prosecutors, he appeared to grab a U.S. Capitol Police officer “by the throat or face mask” and to strike another with a pole.

The sentence was confirmed by Patty Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. She said that Mr. Gietzen was also ordered to complete 100 hours of community service. His lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment on Tuesday evening.

Mr. Gietzen, a former programming engineer, traveled to Washington, D.C., with his brother from North Carolina on Jan. 5, 2021, to protest the results of the 2020 presidential election, court documents show.

Sometime before 2 p.m. the next day, he entered a restricted area at the Capitol, wearing protective gear that included a helmet, goggles and kneepads. He then moved to the front of the crowd, where he yelled an expletive at the police, prosecutors said.

During the standoff, Mr. Gietzen ignored commands to leave the grounds and assaulted a group of officers in a police line by “pushing and pulling against their bodies and shields,” prosecutors said. At one point he thrust a pole at one of them, “significantly contributing to the chaos.”

He also sent a photograph of himself, holding two thumbs up, to his friends and family, they added.

After the attack, Mr. Gietzen sent messages to his friends and family bragging about his participation. Prosecutors said that indicated “not only a total lack of remorse, but an eager expectation of more violence.”

“Unfortunately, it seems civil war is all but assured now,” he wrote in one message. “Word on the street is that the next rally is on the 20th, and people are bringing their guns this time.”

He was arrested by the F.B.I. in Sanford, N.C., on May 11, 2022. In October 2023, Mr. Gietzen failed to show up for a court hearing and was declared a fugitive. He was arrested again in December.

In a memorandum filed earlier this month, prosecutors, citing Mr. Gietzen’s lack of remorse, asked that he be sentenced to more than ten years in prison on the eight counts.

Mr. Gietzen’s lawyers in their own memorandum for a more lenient sentence of four years, citing his good academic record, work history, and his belief in false claims of election fraud spread by many people, including former President Donald J. Trump.

Mr. Gietzen’s lawyers said that he had spent hours every day digesting this “flood” of information, and that as of this month, he still believed that the 2020 election had been stolen. “Without the false claims of election fraud,” they added, “David’s life would have been different.”

As of this month, more than 1,300 people had been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attacks, including nearly 500 who had been charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees, according to the Justice Department.

Kirsten Noyes contributed research.

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