Man who helped drag police officer into mob gets over 5 years in prison for Capitol riot attacks

This combination of images from police body-worn camera video, contained and annotated in the Justice Department's government's sentencing memorandum supporting the sentencing of Jeffrey Sabol, shows Sabol at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. During the course of an attack on police officers, Sabol ripped the baton out of the hands of a fallen officer, leaving him unable to defend himself against assaults by other rioters. Sabol then helped his co-defendants drag a second officer into the crowd, where that officer was also beaten by rioters. (Department of Justice via AP)

This combination of images from police body-worn camera video, contained and annotated in the Justice Department’s government’s sentencing memorandum supporting the sentencing of Jeffrey Sabol, shows Sabol at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. During the course of an attack on police officers, Sabol ripped the baton out of the hands of a fallen officer, leaving him unable to defend himself against assaults by other rioters. Sabol then helped his co-defendants drag a second officer into the crowd, where that officer was also beaten by rioters. (Department of Justice via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Colorado man who helped other rioters drag a police officer into a mob storming the U.S. Capitol was sentenced on Thursday to more than five years in prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

Jeffrey Sabol ripped a baton from an officer’s hands before pulling another officer into the crowd outside the Capitol, allowing other rioters to assault the officer with weapons.

Sabol, 54, told U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras that he knows he is “100%” guilty and would have apologized directly to the officers whom he attacked if they had attended the hearing.

“I accept whatever it is you hand me,” Sabol said. “I’ll be honest: I deserve it.”

The judge sentenced Sabol to five years and three months behind bars. He’ll get credit for the three years and two months that he has already spent in jail since his arrest.

Contreras said Sabol had mischaracterized his violent actions on Jan. 6 as efforts to be helpful.

“It’s hard to imagine how any of this was helpful,” the judge said after describing Sabol’s conduct that day.

Prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of 10 years and one month for Sabol.

Sabol told FBI agents who arrested him that he was filled with “patriotic rage” on Jan. 6 because he believed the 2020 presidential election was stolen from then-President Donald Trump and said he answered a “call to battle” because he was a “patriot warrior,” according to prosecutors.

Contreras convicted Sabol of felony charges last year after a “stipulated bench trial,” which means the judge decided the case without a jury based on facts that both sides agreed to in advance. Such trials allow defendants to admit to certain facts while maintaining a right to appeal a conviction.

Sabol traveled from Colorado to Washington, D.C., with other members of what he called a “neighborhood watch” group. They attended Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally near the White House on Jan. 6 before Sabol went to the Capitol, where lawmakers were certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory.

Sabol was wearing a helmet when he and other rioters attacked police officers on the west side of the Capitol.

“He entered the fray with the intent to halt the certification of the electoral college vote and to violently combat what he believed was a stolen election,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

On the Lower West Terrace, Sabol initially watched as another rioter beat a Metropolitan Police Department officer with a crutch and started to drag that officer down a set of steps. Sabol and a third rioter stepped in and helped drag the officer headfirst down the steps and into the crowd, where other rioters beat him with a flagpole and baton.

After Sabol stole a baton from another officer, other rioters dragged the officer into the crowd, kicked and stomped on him, struck him with poles and ripped off his gas mask before he was pepper sprayed.

Sabol tried to cover his tracks and flee the country after the riot. He microwaved laptops and hard drives, dropped his cell phone out a car window and booked a flight to Zurich, Switzerland, but he didn’t board the flight. Instead, he rented a car and drove to the Westchester, New York, area before he was arrested on Jan. 22, 2021.

Sabol worked as a senior geophysical manager for an environmental services company that fired him after his arrest.

“Jeff Sabol is not a violent man and regrets being caught up in his emotions and engaging in conduct that is not reflective of the law-abiding man and loving father that he has always strived to project,” his attorney wrote in a court filing.

Contreras previously sentenced several other rioters who were charged with Sabol and convicted of attacking the injured officers.

A former Tennessee sheriff’s deputy, Ronald Colton McAbee, was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison. Florida resident Mason Courson was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison. Arkansas truck driver Peter Francis Stager was sentenced to four years and four months in prison. Michigan resident Justin Jersey was sentenced to four years and three months in prison. Michigan construction worker Logan Barnhart was sentenced to three years in prison. Kentucky business owner Clayton Ray Mullins was sentenced to two years and six months in prison.

Another co-defendant, Georgia business owner Jack Wade Whitton, is scheduled to be sentenced in May.

More than 1,300 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot. Over 800 of them have been sentenced, with roughly two-thirds receiving a term of imprisonment ranging from a few days to 22 years.

AP Politics

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