An ex-cop from Georgia whose presence at the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol was flagged to the feds by a fellow officer has been sentenced to probation and home detention.
Michael Shane Daughtry, 60, was sentenced Thursday to three years of probation, including 60 days of home detention. He had pleaded guilty in March to one count of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.
Prosecutors had asked for four months of home detention in addition to probation; Daughtry had requested a sentence of probation only.
As prosecutors noted, Daughtry had made several posts online ahead of Donald Trump’s so-called “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 in which he appeared to make his feelings about Democrats clear.
“When they finally start putting some of these Democrats in front of the firing squad for treason I hope they’ll let me serve on the firing squad … I’ll even bring my own ammo!” he said in Dec. 18 post.
“Ain’t our Purple Anti-Liberal Bullets pretty,” he wrote in a post on Dec. 26, 2020.
Those posts, along with other posts indicating his intention to go to Washington, prompted an officer from the Pelham Police Department—where Daughtry himself had worked in the early 2000s—to call Daughtry and record the conversation.
“A Pelham Police Department officer who had seen Daughtry’s Facebook posts, called Daughtry on January 6th at approximately 4:24 p.m. and recorded their communication,” the DOJ said in its sentencing memorandum. “In this conversation, Daughtry stated that he was at the Capitol that day and that he was one of the first people to force his way past the barricades surrounding the perimeter. He acknowledged during the call that he went ‘up to the Capitol door’ but ‘had to back off’ when law enforcement officers shot him with rubber bullets. Daughtry claimed, ‘We the one that tore the fence down up there.’ He also claimed ‘We was the first ones over the fence. Everyone followed us.'”
Daughtry wasn’t accused of entering the Capitol building itself, but he admitted to climbing scaffolding in the West Terrace area and taking a picture of the growing crowd.
“Our veiw [sic] from the scaffolding above the steps on the rear of the Capital [sic] Building, this shows maybe 1/5 of the people that were there,” Daughtry wrote in a caption above two pictures he posted on Jan. 7. “There were at least this many people in the front.”
That same day, Daughtry posted a misinformation-filled missive to Facebook in which he said that he “refused to leave the Capital [sic] steps for several hours” and that the attack was staged by Capitol Police “to make us look bad.”
“I never saw one patriot cause any damage or cause any trouble,” the post said. “The violence was all ANTIFA.”
At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Daughtry told U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss that those weren’t exactly his words.
“That was a repost of someone staying at the motel with me,” Daughtry said. “When I got back to the motel that night, probably after midnight, I was down in the lobby drinking coffee … I wasn’t friends with them, they asked me to post it, they sent it to me and I reposted it.”
Daughtry said that much of what he posted online was bluster and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
“It’s mostly just hyperbole,” Daughtry said. “I’m not one of those people who believes in conspiracies and stuff, I never have. You can’t be a police officer for 20 years and believe everything you hear.”
Moss pressed Daughtry further, asking if he did believe the violence was carried out by Antifa or staged.
“It could have been Antifa, it could have been anyone,” Daughtry said. “I’m not saying it was or wasn’t. I have no idea who it was. They’re trying to get to the bottom of it now, having hearings, going through the video to find out who it was.”
Federal officials have testified that there is no evidence that “fake” Trump supporters or Antifa were among the Capitol rioters that day.
Moss also push back on Daughtry’s insistence that he saw police officers moving barricades near Capitol grounds, saying that he was “skeptical” of that idea and that it’s possible that rioters dressed in military gear were actually the ones moving the barriers.
Moss told Daughtry that the judge’s ultimate sentence was lighter than what he originally planned.
“My initial inclination was to impose a longer term of home detention, but I was persuaded by Mr. Daughtry and [attorney Timothy Saviello],” Moss said, referring to Daughtry’s sentencing memo in which he detailed his family history—including his father’s suicide and the death of his second wife—and his responsibilities caring for his current girlfriend, who has medical issues. Moss.
Moss, a Barack Obama appointee, also noted that Daughtry has already spent the 17 months since his arrest under restrictions that were “possibly stricter than what I would have imposed.”
Daughtry pleaded with Moss to remove the restriction that he not be allowed to have firearms in his home—a standard condition of probation in federal misdemeanor cases—saying that he wouldn’t be able to find a job as a police officer while on probation and that his work as a gunsmith would be the only thing to provide income. Moss, who had granted the government’s request for a mental health evaluation as part of the sentence, said that he would reevaluate the firearms restriction after that.
Daughtry will also have to perform 60 hours of community service and, pursuant to his plea agreement, pay $500 in restitution toward the estimated $2.7 million in damage to the Capitol.
[Images via FBI court filing.]
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