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Jan. 6 rioter accused of attacking Officer Michael Fanone pleads guilty

Daniel Rodriguez, who is accused of attacking Fanone with a Taser during the riot, pleaded guilty to related charges Tuesday.
D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone listens as President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on Aug. 5, 2021.
Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone listens as President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on Aug. 5, 2021.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

A Jan. 6 rioter who allegedly used an "electroshock weapon" to assault Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone and then bragged about the attack to friends pleaded guilty to related charges Tuesday.

Daniel Rodriguez
Daniel Rodriguez at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in a video presented as evidence. U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

"Omg I did so much f---ing s--- rn and got away tell you later," Daniel "D.J." Rodriguez, of Fontana, California, wrote in a group chat with other rioters, according to an indictment filed in federal court in Washington. "Tazzzzed the f--- out of the blue."

Rodriguez was charged with eight federal counts and pleaded guilty to four of those: conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, tampering with documents, and inflicting bodily injury on an officer using a dangerous weapon.

Three of the charges to which Rodriguez pleaded guilty carry a maximum of 20 years in prison. Prosecutors and Rodriguez’s lawyers differ on their calculation of his probable sentence under federal sentencing guidelines, but Rodriguez is more likely to face a sentence in the range of 7-10 years. Prosecutors also indicated Tuesday that they might argue a terrorism sentencing enhancement should be applied in Rodriguez’s case.

The plea agreement does not require that he cooperate with prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson will sentence Rodriguez on May 16. His case had been scheduled to go to trial this month.

Another rioter involved in the attack on Fanone, an Iowa man named Kyle Young who had brought his 16-year-old son with him to the Capitol, was sentenced in September to more than seven years in prison.

Rodriguez seen moving the taser toward Fanone.
Rodriguez seen moving the taser toward Fanone. U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Prosecutors alleged Rodriguez and another California man, Edward Badalian, were part of a Telegram group chat called the “Patriots 45 MAGA Gang.” The indictment described the chat as "a platform to advocate violence against certain groups and individuals that either supported the 2020 presidential election results, supported what the group perceived as liberal, or communist ideologies, or held positions of authority in the government." 

Badalian posted on the chat that he planned to drive to Washington, D.C., and said that "we need to violently remove traitors," according to the indictment. Rodriguez allegedly posted that he was in: "Congress can hang. I'll do it. Please let us get these people dear God," he wrote. They left Los Angeles for Washington, D.C., in a van with other protesters on Jan. 3, prosecutors said.

Badalian told the "chat that he had respirators, masks, snow goggles, knee pads and baseball helmets for the group," the indictment said, adding that they joined up with a "caravan" of other protesters en route.

The pair attended then-President Donald Trump's rally at the Ellipse before heading to the Capitol, and had walkie-talkies to coordinate, the court filing said.

When violence broke out on the Capitol grounds, prosecutors alleged Rodriguez was in the thick of it. He "threw a flagpole at the police line" and "deployed a fire extinguisher at the officers," the indictment said.

Another rioter gave Rodriguez a stun gun, which he used on Fanone as the crowd surged forward and mobbed the officer. Fanone "subsequently lost consciousness and was later admitted to Washington Hospital Center for treatment for his injuries," the feds said.

Fanone suffered a heart attack and a traumatic brain injury during the attack, and resigned from the police department he had served for 20 years in December 2021.

Badalian has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial on Feb. 27.

At least 985 people have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 riot, and 500 have pleaded guilty, according to information released this month by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Washington, D.C.