A South Carolina man who threw a traffic barrier and multiple “stick-like objects” at police who were trying to protect the U.S. Capitol from the angry mob on Jan. 6 has been sentenced to more than three years behind bars.
Nicholas Languerand, 26, was sentenced to 44 months in prison Wednesday. He pleaded guilty in November to one count of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers as hundreds of Donald Trump supporters swarmed the Capitol building in an effort to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.
According to prosecutors, Languerand watched rioters face off against police officers for hours. He then joined the scrum at the lower West Terrace tunnel, first throwing two sticks at officers guarding the tunnel and then launching an orange traffic bollard in their direction.
Prosecutors say he then threw a pepper spray container, a piece of wood, and another stick at police. Later, he grabbed a stolen police riot shield and slammed it on the ground several times before pushing it toward police.
In the days and weeks following the siege, Languerand bragged about his role in the riot, posting on social media that he “got some good shots in” and admitted that “it got really violent.”
“Next time we come back with rifles,” he posted to Instagram on Jan. 7. “It’s not a game.”
When investigators searched Languerand’s phone they found a note written in March that said: “A poem I wrote: Dear FBI, if you play nice, so will I. If you shoot my dog, we will all die.”
Languerand pleaded guilty in November to one count of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon. He admitted that given the size and weight of the bollard and the stick-like objects, he could have caused serious bodily injury to the officers.
Prosecutors asked for 51 months’ incarceration and 3 years supervised release; Languerand asked for one year and one day, with credit for time served.
Languerand had also asked Senior U.S. District Judge John D. Bates for a downward variance from the sentencing guidelines. In his sentencing memo, Languerand detailed his exceedingly troubled and chaotic childhood, in which he was raised by an alcoholic father who allegedly tried to kill Languerand and his mother.
Languerand’s attorney William Welch said at the hearing that his client’s unstable childhood led him to seek out a sense of belonging in QAnon, the far-right, pro-Trump conspiracy theory movement.
“He is so desperate to belong to something, so desperate for a family that he is drawn to this kind of thing,” Welch said.
Bates said that while he was sympathetic to the challenges of Languerand’s upbringing, it doesn’t excuse Languerand’s actions at the Capitol.
“It’s clear this was not one spontaneous event, not one spontaneous engagement, but rather repeated efforts to bring harm to law enforcement officers defending the Capitol,” Bates said, adding that Languerand’s assaults “took many forms, all of which were aggressive and offensive.”
Bates, a George W. Bush appointee, also said he was concerned about Languerand’s post-Jan. 6 comments.
“‘Next time we come back with rifles.’ Stop for a moment and think about that,” Bates said, quoting one of Languerand’s post-Jan. 6 social media comments. “That’s very concerning to the court.”
Bates also said that Languerand’s letter to the court was also somewhat troubling.
“In the letter submitted, he did continued to praise QAnon, the purveyor of conspiracy theories, and to some extent—a fairly substantial extent—blamed his violent conduct on being misled by others,” Bates said. “[That letter] does leave a lingering concern for the court over recidivism and over how true and committed his remorse is in this case.”
Bates indicated that he didn’t entirely buy Languerand’s expressions of remorse, saying it wasn’t “the complete commitment, disavowal, and acceptance of personal responsibility that one might hope to see.” But the judge did say that he believes Languerand has learned some kind of lesson.
“The patriots here were not those who were invading the Capitol attacking police officers,” Bates said. “The patriots were the police officers who were defending the Capitol building and our democratic values. There’s no question about that. And I think Mr. Languerand understands that now.”
Languerand’s sentence is one of the longest periods of incarceration imposed so far on Jan. 6. defendants. Robert Scott Palmer, who pleaded guilty to the same charge as Languerand, was sentenced in December to 63 months behind bars; Devlyn Thompson, who also admitted to assaulting officers, was sentenced to 46 months.
Scott Fairlamb and Jacob Chansley, two of the more notorious faces of the riot, were each sentenced to 41 months after pleading guilty to assaulting a police officer and obstructing an official proceeding of Congress, respectively.
Bates also sentenced Languerand to supervised release, in which is computer use and internet access will be closely watched. Pursuant to his plea agreement, Languerand will also pay a $2,000 fine.
At the end of the hearing Wednesday, Bates agreed to a request from Welch to place Languerand in a facility in or near South Carolina, so he could be close to grandparents who live there. Languerand, who has been in custody since his arrest in April 2021, will get credit for time served.
[Images via FBI]
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