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Jan. 6 rioter who electroshocked Michael Fanone shouts 'Trump won' after he's sentenced to 12½ years

Daniel "D.J." Rodriguez, who was wearing a MAGA hat when he drove a stun gun into the officer's neck at the Capitol, was arrested after the online Sedition Hunters community helped identify him.
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WASHINGTON — A Donald Trump supporter who drove a stun gun into the neck of a Washington police officer who was abducted by the mob during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol shouted "Trump won" after he was sentenced to 12½ years in prison Wednesday, multiple people present in the courtroom said.

Daniel "D.J." Rodriguez, a California man who traveled to Washington with fellow Trump supporters who belonged to a Telegram group called the "PATRIOTS 45 MAGA Gang," pleaded guilty in February to felony conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, tampering with documents or proceedings and inflicting bodily injury on officers using a deadly or dangerous weapon.

"There will be blood," Rodriguez wrote in a "MAGA Gang" Telegram chat on the night of Jan. 5, 2021, just hours before he attended Trump's rally at the Ellipse near the White House. "Welcome to the revolution.”

On Jan. 6, after having joined the fight in the Capitol's lower west tunnel — where some of the most violent scenes of the day played out — Rodriguez attacked Officer Michael Fanone, later bragging about his actions in the Telegram chat.

“Omg I did so much f---ing s--- [right now] and got away,” he wrote to fellow members of the Patriots 45 MAGA Gang. “Tazzed the f--- out of the blue.”

Daniel Rodriguez
Daniel Rodriguez, wearing a red MAGA hat, at the Trump rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021, before he drove an electroshock weapon into Washington Police Officer Mike Fanone's neck.U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson imposed Rodriguez's 151-month sentence, saying he was a “one-man army of hate, attacking police officers and destroying property,” on Jan. 6. Rodriguez was responsible for his own behavior even if Trump had been making "irresponsible and knowingly false claims that the election had been stolen," she said.

Fanone, Jackson said, was "protecting the very essence of democracy," and Rodriguez was "among the most serious offenders" on Jan. 6. "He's not just a follower; he calls for action," Jackson said, referring to Rodriguez's violent rhetoric immediately after Trump lost the 2020 election. Jackson said there was no indication that Rodriguez had any mental or cognitive impairments, referring to him as "a man of average intelligence."

Ahead of his sentencing, Rodriguez spoke for about 20 minutes in a rambling speech, saying he “truly” thought a civil war was going to begin and that he believed the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers formed because police were standing down across the country. He acknowledged his actions against Fanone but stopped short of an apology.

"Life has always seemed unfair to me," Rodriguez said, speaking of inequality in the country before referring to himself as "an American supremacist." If he were allowed to go home, Rodriguez said, he would go back to "driving a forklift with my GED and living with my mom," claiming he did not present a future threat.

Fanone, speaking after Rodriguez's subsequent outburst, said, "It’s been clear by the defendants' own behavior that there is no remorse, at least for the individuals in which I came in contact with on Jan. 6 who are criminally charged."

Fanone said Rodriguez's "half-hearted attempt to apologize for his conduct" and later outburst showed that stiff sentences were "the best assurance that we have that this won’t happen again."

"These are Americans that engaged in seditious activity," Fanone said. "I believe that they were traitors, and they should be sentenced accordingly. We need to stop treating these people as anything other than enemy combatants of our democracy."

Before Rodriguez's sentencing, Fanone called Rodriguez's life story "pathetic" and said he himself had lost his career, friends and faith in the criminal justice system because of what he went through that day.

"I don’t give a s--- about Daniel Rodriguez. He ceased to exist to me as a person a long time ago," Fanone said. "Any compassion or empathy I felt toward those who laid siege to our Capitol, whose actions I felt were at least in part influenced by their leader, Donald Trump, and his lies, has been eroded — eroded by the attacks directed at me and my family by supporters of Donald Trump and the right-wing media."

Fanone, referring to special counsel Jack Smith's ongoing investigation of Trump's actions leading up to Jan. 6, called for the Justice Department to pursue indictments against Trump and anyone else responsible "regardless of their wealth or current political position" and prove the mantra that no one is above the law.

"Your honor, we must all join in the fight against Donald Trump and the destructive, divisive movement he has come to represent," Fanone said. "We must offer him no safe harbor and to his enablers — whether in business, in politics and the media — give no quarter. In the fight to preserve our Republic, there can be no spectators."

Federal prosecutors wanted Rodriguez to spend 14 years in federal prison — an upward departure from his sentencing guidelines, which suggested a sentence of roughly eight to 10 years — saying he committed an act of terrorism. Rodriguez’s “egregious” conduct “displayed a clear intent to stop Congress from certifying the results of the election” and was “calculated to stop the peaceful transfer of Presidential power for the first time in the nation’s history,” argued prosecutors, who called his efforts “a quintessential example of an intent to influence government conduct through intimidation or coercion.”

Rodriguez’s federal public defenders said that Trump’s “incendiary lies” about the election “created a frenzy of anger and uncertainty” and that Rodriguez’s “unwavering belief in the words of the former president ... drove him to lose all sense of right and wrong.” Rodriguez “deeply respected and idolized Trump,” whom he saw “as the father he wished he had,” they wrote, saying Rodriguez “believed Trump was someone to be admired: a multimillionaire who graduated from Wharton Business School, with his name massively displayed in gold on buildings across the United States.”

Forrest Rogers, an American living in Germany on Jan. 6, first surfaced evidence that Rodriguez electroshocked Fanone after having pored over online video frame by frame as part of his work for Deep State Dogs, one of the groups of online Sedition Hunters that popped up in the wake of Jan. 6 to identify Capitol rioters. After Rogers tweeted video of the incident, Rodriguez was identified by activists who knew the MAGA-hatted man from a protest scene in Beverly Hills, California.

Rodriguez was then identified in a February 2021 HuffPost story, and the FBI arrested him the next month. In an FBI interview, Rodriguez called himself a "f---ing piece of s--t" and said he was "not smart." Rodriguez said he was influenced by the far-right conspiracy theory website Infowars, as well as conservative commentators like Steven Crowder, Mark Dice and the "Hodgetwins" brothers duo. Rodriguez, who believed Trump's lies about the 2020 presidential election, told the FBI that Trump had "called us" to Washington on Jan. 6 and that he felt a duty to respond to the commander-in-chief.

“Are we all that stupid that we thought we were going to go do this and save the country and it was all going to be fine after?" Rodriguez said in his FBI interview. "We really thought that. That’s so stupid, huh?”

Daniel Rodriguez
Daniel Rodriguez inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

More than 1,000 people have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, and nearly 600 have pleaded guilty. Of the approximately 524 defendants who have been sentenced, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, about 310 have been sentenced to periods that have ranged from a few days to nearly two decades in prison. The sentences continue on a nearly daily basis: Washington chiropractor David Walls-Kaufman was sentenced to 60 days after he admitted he "scuffled" with officers inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, including an officer who died by suicide nine days later.

The longest sentence for a Jan. 6 defendant to date — 18 years in federal prison — went to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who was convicted of seditious conspiracy in November. Federal prosecutors had sought a sentence of 25 years in federal prison.

Two other Jan. 6 defendants who assaulted Fanone have received significant sentences. Kyle Young — a Jan. 6 rioter who was accompanied by his teenage son when he handed Rodriguez the electroshock weapon used to attack Fanone, whom Young grabbed during the attack — was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison in September. Albuquerque Head — a Jan. 6 rioter who yelled "I got one!" when he seized Fanone and dragged him into the mob — was sentenced to 7½ years in federal prison in October.

In addition to his violence against Fanone, Rodriguez entered an office space inside the Capitol through a broken window and urged the mob ahead. Using a pole, Rodriguez smashed out a window in the private "hideaway" office of Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho. Months after his arrest, Rodriguez was indicted along with two co-defendants: Ed Badalian, who was found guilty of three counts in April, and a man known to online sleuths as #SwedishScarf, who has been identified by the FBI but who prosecutors have said is believed to have fled the country.