Rioter who stole badge, radio from beaten officer on Jan. 6 gets more than 4 years in prison

28 July 2023

A New York man who stole a badge and radio from a police officer brutally beaten by other rioters during the attack on the U.S. Capitol was sentenced on Friday to more than four years in prison.

Thomas Sibick, of Buffalo, pleaded guilty in March for his role in the attack on Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who has described fighting for his life to defend the Capitol as lawmakers inside fled from the angry mob on Jan. 6, 2021.

In a letter to the judge, Sibick, 37, called the trauma Fanone experienced “undeniably sickening” and said he takes full responsibility for his “uncivilized display of reckless behavior.”

“It was an attack on the institutions of our democracy and not as some would make you believe legitimate political discourse. The attack was far from peaceful, my actions played a role that will follow me for the rest of my life,” Sibick wrote.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced him to 50 months in prison during a hearing in Washington’s federal court.

Sibick’s attorney Stephen Brennwald did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Following his arrest, Sibick spent eight months behind bars but was released on home confinement in October 2021 after his lawyer pressed the judge to free him while his case played out.

Sibick’s attorney had asked for a sentence of home confinement, writing in court papers that a mental health misdiagnosis resulted in his client taking medication on Jan. 6 that “severely and negatively impacted him.” Sibick’s attorney said, unlike other rioters, his client did not physically assault Fanone, and their interaction was limited to Sibick grabbing Fanone’s radio and badge.

“Mr. Sibick has made a remarkable change in his life since he received his correct mental health diagnosis and has begun cognitive behavioral therapy,” Brennwald wrote. “Because he sees January 6 for what it was, he is not a threat to re-offend in the future.”

Rioters kicked, punched, grabbed and shocked Fanone with a stun gun after pulling him away from other officers who were guarding a tunnel entrance on the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace. Another rioter threatened to take Fanone’s gun and kill him. Fanone said the attack gave him a heart attack and a traumatic brain injury and ultimately cost him his career.

Fanone’s body camera captured Sibick removing the officer’s badge and radio from his tactical vest, according to a court filing accompanying his guilty plea.

Others in the crowd escorted Fanone back to the police line. Before FBI agents showed Sibick the body camera video, he initially claimed that he tried in vain to pull the officer away from his attackers.

Sibick said he buried Fanone’s badge in his backyard after returning home to Buffalo. He returned the badge, but Fanone’s $5,500 radio hasn’t been recovered.

Other rioters have been charged with attacking Fanone, who lost consciousness and was taken to an emergency room.

Albuquerque Cosper Head, a Tennessee man who dragged Fanone into the crowd, was sentenced in October 2022 to seven years and six months in prison. Another man, Daniel Rodriguez of California, was sentenced last month to more than 12 years in prison for driving a stun gun into Fanone’s neck as the officer screamed out in pain.

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