A man known by the hashtag #FloridaFlagJacket has admitted to being on the “front line” of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, acknowledging that he sprayed police officers with a fire extinguisher before throwing it at them.
Robert Scott Palmer pleaded guilty Monday to one count of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers using a dangerous weapon.
Palmer, 54, appeared in person for the hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan. When she asked him whether he sprayed Capitol police officers with a fire extinguisher before throwing it at them, Palmer responded with a simple “Yes ma’am.” He offered the same response when she asked him if he was part of the “front line” of people attacking the Capitol building.
Palmer also admitted to throwing a wooden plank at officers, and acknowledged that he knew they were engaged in their official duty when he attacked them.
Palmer, who was wearing a red “Florida for Trump” hat and an American flag jacket during the incursion, faced multiple felony charges, including additional assault charges and unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds.
According to the plea agreement, the estimated guideline range for sentencing is 46-57 months. Palmer’s lawyer, Bjorn Brunvand, has said he plans to argue for a downward variance.
Palmer will be in federal custody until his sentencing, set for December 17. Brunvand had requested that Palmer be released, indicating that he could prove with “clear and convincing evidence” that Palmer was not a threat to public safety. However, as Chutkan noted, the plea agreement said that Palmer’s pre-sentencing detention was mandatory, and denied Brunvand’s request.
Brunvand also said that Palmer had sold all his assets in anticipation of being incarcerated—efforts that included, apparently, a garage sale.
Under the agreement, Palmer will pay $2,000 in restitution.
Palmer told Chutkan that this wasn’t his first time pleading guilty to a crime, and Brunvand noted that Palmer has prior convictions dating back to 1989. The Huffpost had reported in March that Palmer, who ran a cleaning and restoration business, had a criminal record of battery and felony fraud.
Palmer was identified as one of the Jan. 6 attackers after an online sleuth known as “Amy” worked with HuffPost reporters to identify him. He was arrested just days after the March HuffPost story revealed his identity.
“He surrendered and turned himself in shortly after your story,” Brunvand told HuffPost in August. “We reached out to the FBI, and he turned himself in as soon as they were ready for him to … Consistent with what we’ve been doing since day one, he wants to accept responsibility for what he did.”
Video showed Palmer spraying a fire extinguisher toward police officers standing in a Capitol archway on Jan. 6. He then threw the extinguisher into the archway. The statement of offense notes that “[n]o specific injury has been tied to [Palmer’s] conduct,” but
[b]ased on the size and weight of the plank and the fire extinguisher, and the force with which defendant threw them, the objects were capable of inflicting serious bodily injury.”
Other video showed Palmer giving an on-camera interview in which he identified himself by name after pulling his mask down to reveal his face.
Read the plea agreement and statement of offense, below.
Editor’s note: this story was updated post-publication to include the plea agreement and statement of offense.
[Image via FBI, YouTube]
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