A Baltimore man was sentenced to 15 months in prison for taking part in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, including grabbing a police officer’s riot shield and dragging him down stairs.
Narayana Rheiner, 42, pleaded guilty last year to one count of interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder. In addition to prison time, he was ordered to serve 36 months of supervised release and pay $2,000 restitution. Prosecutors had asked that Rheiner serve 21 months.
Rheiner was on probation at the time for a prior offense, and drove from Baltimore to Washington, attending the “Stop the Steal” rally and marching with protesters to the Capitol. After knocking down the officer, he entered the the building and joined a group trying to access to a hallway blocked by police.
“Not only was Rheiner part of this larger riot, but he was involved at a critical moment when rioters overran the police line on the West Front, allowing the rioters to penetrate into the building,” federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Without the aggressive and violent behavior of rioters like Rheiner, the police officers likely would have been able to hold the line and prevent the mob from entering the building.”
When officers deployed chemical irritants to disperse the rioters, Rheiner yelled at them, “You know how many times I’ve been sprayed today? That shit ain’t nothing!”
“When another officer said, ‘This is not the right way,’ Rheiner responded ‘It is the right way. We got to send a message,’” prosecutors said. He added: “There’re millions of people here — it’s not worth it. You guys need to join us, be on our side.”
In a letter to the judge, Rheiner wrote that he supported Donald Trump because of his “hardline stance against human trafficking” and blamed his actions partly on post-traumatic stress disorder.
He apologized to the officer in his letter, but also said that he did a Bing search asking whether the U.S. Capitol is open to the public and said that the search result said it was.
After being arrested, Rheiner told federal authorities he was “acting stupid” and got caught up in “the heat of the moment,” and said he had been “egged on” by other people in the crowd, including “Antifa members dressed up as Trump supporters.”