Jan. 6 Rioter Receives Longest Term Yet

Judge tells Peter Schwartz he's no political prisoner
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 5, 2023 5:45 PM CDT
Judge Gives Jan. 6 Rioter 14 Years
In this image from a police officer's body-worn video camera, released and annotated by the Justice Department in the Government's Sentencing Memorandum, Peter Schwartz, circled in red, uses pepper spray against officers at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.   (Justice Department via AP)

A Kentucky man with a long criminal record was sentenced Friday to 14 years in prison for attacking police officers with pepper spray and a chair as he stormed the US Capitol with his wife. Peter Schwartz's prison sentence is the longest so far among hundreds of Jan. 6 riot cases. Prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of 24 years, 6 months for Schwartz, a welder. US District Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Schwartz to 14 years, two months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, the AP reports.

Schwartz was a "soldier against democracy" who participated in "the kind of mayhem, chaos that had never been seen in the country's history," Mehta told him. "You are not a political prisoner. You're not somebody who is standing up against injustice or fighting against an autocratic regime." Schwartz had briefly addressed the judge before learning his sentence, saying, "I do sincerely regret the damage that Jan. 6 has caused to so many people and their lives." But the judge said he didn't believe Schwartz's statement, noting his lack of remorse. "You took it upon yourself to try and injure multiple police officers that day," Mehta said.

Schwartz was armed with a wooden tire knocker when he and his then-wife, Shelly Stallings, joined other rioters in overwhelming a line of police officers on the Capitol's Lower West Terrace, where he threw a folding chair at officers. Prosecutors said that act "directly contributed to the fall of the police line." Schwartz, 49, also armed himself with a police-issued "super soaker" canister of pepper spray and sprayed it at retreating officers, per the AP. Advancing to a tunnel entrance, Schwartz coordinated with two other rioters, Markus Maly and Jeffrey Brown, to spray an orange liquid toward officers clashing with the mob. "While the stream of liquid did not directly hit any officer, its effect was to heighten the danger to the officers in that tunnel," a prosecutor wrote. Before leaving, Schwartz joined a "heave ho" push against police in the tunnel.

(More Capitol riot stories.)

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