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Jan. 6 rioter who referred to Trump as his ‘dad’ and tased police officer deserves 14 years behind bars: Feds


Daniel “D.J.” Rodriguez at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 (via DOJ court filing).

Federal prosecutors want the Donald Trump supporter who admitted to tasing a police officer during the violent melee at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to spend more than a dozen years in prison.

Daniel “D.J.” Rodriguez was a particularly notorious figure to emerge from the Capitol attack, when a mob of Donald Trump supporters overwhelmed police and stormed the Capitol building as Congress had begun to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral win. In interviews with federal investigators, Rodriguez, 40, appears to have admitted to being the one who placed some sort of electroshock weapon to the neck of Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone.

“What do you want me to tell you?” Rodriguez told federal investigators said at the time. “That I tased him? Yes… Am I a f—— piece of s—? Yes.”

Fanone was dragged down the Capitol steps in the attack and viciously beaten as he pleaded for his life and memorably shouting to his assaulters that he had kids. He suffered a mild heart attack allegedly triggered by Rodriguez’s stun gun. He survived, but he retired from the force in 2021 and eventually testified before Congress about his experience.

In a filing late last week, federal prosecutors argued that he should serve more than a dozen years behind bars.

“For the defendant who conspired for weeks to travel across the country to stop the official proceeding on January 6, 2021, who battled members of law enforcement on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, tasing one of them in the neck, and who obstructed justice by conspiring with others to get rid of key evidence from January 6th, the government requests that this Court sentence Daniel Joseph Rodriguez to 168 months’ incarceration,” federal prosecutors say in the sentencing memorandum.

The government also seeks 36 months of supervised release and nearly $100,000 in restitution.

Calling Rodriguez “one of the most violent defendants on Jan. 6,” prosecutors say that his assault on Fanone was “not the end of Rodriguez’s day at the Capitol.” After breaching the building through a broken window shortly before 5:00 p.m., he entered multiple offices, at one point trying to break open a window to allow more rioters inside. In a different office, prosecutors say, Rodriguez “rifled through bags and desks” and instructed other people to “look for intel.” At one point, he found an emergency escape hood and took it with him when he eventually left the building.

In the immediate aftermath of the assault, Rodriguez appeared to brag about it.

“Tazzzzed the f— out of the blue,” Rodriguez posted to a pro-Trump Telegram group on Jan. 6 as the riot was underway, prosecutors say. “[O]mg I did so much f—— s— [right now] and got away tell you later,” he also wrote.

Rodriguez, who is from California, pleaded guilty in February to obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, tampering with documents or proceedings, and inflicting bodily injury on an officer using a dangerous weapon. The obstruction and assault charges carry a potential statutory maximum of up to 20 years behind bars. Rodriguez’s plea agreement initially contemplated a sentence range of 87 to 121 months.

The government’s sentencing memo links Rodriguez to another notorious Jan. 6 defendant, Beverly Hills beautician Gina Bisignano, who memorably shouted “You are not going to take away our Trumpy Bear!” through a bullhorn while perched on a windowsill at the Capitol on Jan. 6. After returning to California from Washington, prosecutors say, Rodriguez visited Bisignano at her home, where he reportedly instructed her on how to erase digital evidence of her time at the Capitol.

Bisignano withdrew her guilty plea to several Jan. 6 offenses in May 2022, and court records indicate that she is moving forward with a bench trial, although a trial date has not been set.

“Rodriguez did this with the understanding that these videos could be used as evidence in future prosecutions of the Capitol riot,” the government’s memo says.

Rodriguez, for his part, says that he was a victim of Trump’s “lies and manipulation” about his loss in the 2020 election. In his memo, lawyers say that Rodriguez’s fatherless childhood led the defendant to all but worship Trump.

Rodriguez “believed the former president’s lies because Mr. Rodriguez deeply respected and idolized Trump,” the memo says. “He saw the former president as the father he wished he had.”

Indeed, as the defense memo notes, Rodriguez referred to Trump as his father in the days before the attack.

“Dad’s big day,” Rodriguez wrote in a pro-Trump chat group ahead of Jan. 6. “Gotta get ready to save America.”

Rodriguez has taken a decidedly different tone in a letter to Fanone, which was submitted in support of his sentencing memorandum.

“I wish I was smarter,” he said. “I should have protected you because I have deep respect for law enforcement, and I have always stood up for police officers. You are a brave man and I wish for good things for you in the future. I want to apologize to your children as well. If I could go back and change what I did, I would.”

Rodriguez requested a sentence of 65 months behind bars, or around 5 1/2 years. He is set to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, a Barack Obama appointee, on June 21.

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