The man known as #FloridaFlagJacket, who admitted to being on the “front line” of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, has been sentenced to more than five years in prison, the longest sentence so far for those charged with participating in the siege.
Robert Scott Palmer, 54, pleaded guilty in October to one count of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers using a dangerous weapon.
Palmer requested a sentence of 24 months, a downward variance from the advisory sentencing guideline range of 63 to 78 months.
U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan denied that motion at Palmer’s sentencing hearing Friday, finding Palmer argument that a traumatic childhood led to his actions at the Capitol unpersuasive.
She said that Palmer, who started a carpet cleaning business in Florida, has been successful despite his childhood challenges, and that they were not what brought him to the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“The difficult circumstances of childhood weren’t the reason why he went to the Capitol,” said Chutkan, a Barack Obama appointee. “He seems to have overcome them, living an otherwise productive life.”
“Mr. Palmer didn’t like the results [of the election] and he didn’t want the transition of power to take place because his guy lost,” she added.
She also said that his argument that the “architects” of Jan. 6 haven’t been punished isn’t relevant to determining Palmer’s sentence.
“[It’s true] that the people who exhorted you and encouraged you and rallied you to go take action and to fight have not been charged,” Chutkan said. “The issue of who has been charged is not before me.”
“You engaged in combat with those law enforcement officers,” Chutkan also said. “That’s what you’re being punished for … You have a point: maybe the people who planned [Jan. 6] haven’t been charged. But that’s not a reason for you to get a lower sentence.”
Chutkan also noted that a post-plea fundraising page, on which Palmer said his actions at the Capitol were self-defense, “undercut the argument” that he was truly remorseful for his actions.
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.
He ultimately admitted to spraying a fire extinguisher at police officers trying to protect the Capitol from the mob of Donald Trump supporters who were trying to stop the Electoral College certification of Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election. He also admitted to throwing a wooden plank at the officers.
During the hearing, Chutkan expressed skepticism as to whether Palmer’s remorse was real.
“I don’t know if your remorse now is genuine or not. I certainly hope it is. It sounds like it is,” she said.
“The way you conduct your life after this case is going to speak volumes about whether you are truly remorseful,” Chutkan said after issuing the sentence. “You may or may not be. I don’t have control over that … [but] it is the way we pick ourselves up from our mistakes that shows your true character.”
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 HuffPost story in March 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.
[Images courtesy FBI]
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