Capitol Rioter Robert Palmer Gets 5 Years In Prison For Assaulting Police, Longest Sentence So Far
Robert Palmer of Tampa, Florida was sentenced on Friday to 63 months, just over five years, for assaulting police officers during the Jan. 6 insurrection on the Capitol. Thus far, Palmer’s is the longest sentence among over 150 defendants who have pleaded guilty for their involvement in the attack. The next-longest sentence for participation in the riot is 41 months.
Palmer was charged with repeatedly assaulting police officers. According to prosecutors, he threw a wooden plank at officers, sprayed a fire extinguisher at a line of police, and then threw the empty canister at the officers. A few minutes later, he retrieved the extinguisher and threw it at them again. He attacked another group of police by throwing a metal pole at them like a spear.
He ceased the assault when an officer shot him in the abdomen with a nonlethal rubber bullet. According to documents, all of the officers shielded themselves from Palmer’s attack and none of them were hurt.
“Those officers were so brave standing there, just taking all the stuff that people were giving them, all the taunts, all the jeers and everything,” Palmer said to Judge Tanya S. Chutkan prior to his sentence. “I am so ashamed I was part of that. Very, very ashamed.”
Soon after the insurrection, Palmer was one of the first people to turn himself in to the FBI. In October, he pleaded guilty to his charges.
In light of these acts, his lawyer, Bjorn Brunvand, argued that Palmer deserved a reduced sentence on the grounds that he held himself accountable for his actions. However, prosecutors argued that Palmer’s post on social media after he plead guilty shows a lack of remorse.
In the post, which Palmer admitted on Friday was untruthful, Palmer asked for support from his viewers and argued that the assault was in self-defense, falsely claiming that he only threw the fire extinguisher after being shot by the rubber round.
“The posting of the false statement indicated at the time after he pleaded guilty that he was still denying his culpability for the offense,” said Chutkan, who determined that these actions demonstrated lack of remorse.
The defense lawyer also argued that Palmer behaved in a “completely out of character” manner during the Jan. 6 riot, and that his client did so because he was “swept up in the furor of the crowd.”
However, prosecutors refuted this argument. “Palmer did not stumble into a bad situation,” they said. They pointed to the fact that Palmer had only assaulted the police after watching officers be attacked for an hour. The lawyers summarized, “Knowing exactly what has happening to the officers in the Lower West Terrace tunnel, Palmer chose to get closer and physically attack.”
Of the ruling against Palmer, Chutkan said, “It has to be made clear that trying to violently overthrow the government, trying to stop the peaceful transition of power, and assaulting law enforcement officers in that effort is going to be met with absolutely certain punishment.”