Texas Man Who Tried to Breach Speaker’s Lobby on Jan. 6 Gets 7 Years - The World News

Texas Man Who Tried to Breach Speaker’s Lobby on Jan. 6 Gets 7 Years

A Texas man who joined other rioters at the U.S. Capitol trying to break into the Speaker’s Lobby, where a woman who was a part of the mob on Jan. 6, 2021, was fatally shot by the police, was sentenced on Tuesday to nearly seven years in prison, the Justice Department said.

The man, Christopher R. Grider, 41, of Eddy, Texas, had also tried to shut off the electricity at the Capitol, pressing buttons on an electric utility box while yelling, “Turn the power off!” according to prosecutors.

Mr. Grider, who operates a vineyard in Central Texas, pleaded guilty last year to entering a restricted area and unlawfully parading at the Capitol, his lawyer said. He went to trial on seven other charges, including civil disorder and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., convicted him on all counts.

On Tuesday, Judge Kollar-Kotelly sentenced Mr. Grider to six years and 11 months in prison and ordered him to pay $5,055 in restitution and an $812 fine.

In March, Judge Kollar-Kotelly said in court that videos of the episode had clearly demonstrated “how Mr. Grider put himself at the center of this conflict, steps away from some of the most violent, lawless and reprehensible acts that occurred in the Capitol on that day.”

She then asked: “How close can a person be to unquestionably violent and completely unacceptable lynch-mob-like acts of others, and still claim to be a nondangerous, truly innocent bystander?”

Mr. Grider’s lawyer, Brent Mayr, said in an interview on Tuesday that his client “truly regrets his actions on Jan. 6 and apologizes to his family, his community and, most importantly, his country.”

But he added that they were “deeply disappointed that his sentence is significantly longer than others who did so much worse than him.”

“He did not assault any officers, much less threaten anyone with any violence before, during or after that day,” Mr. Mayr said. “The disparity in this sentence is very, very disappointing to us.”

Last month, a man was sentenced to three years in prison for assaulting police officers during the attack on the Capitol. In September 2022, a retired New York City police officer who swung a metal flagpole at a Washington officer during the Jan. 6 attack was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Earlier this month, a Pennsylvania welder who attacked police officers at the Capitol with a chair and then chemical spray was sentenced to slightly more than 14 years in prison, the most severe penalty handed down so far in connection with the events of Jan. 6.

More than 1,000 people from nearly all 50 states have been arrested in connection with crimes related to the Capitol riot, according to the Justice Department.

Mr. Grider believed he was just going to attend President Donald J. Trump’s rally at the Capitol on Jan. 6, have a meal afterward and then get on a plane back to Texas, Mr. Mayr said.

Mr. Grider did not manage to attend President Trump’s speech, but he had heard that the president wanted everyone to go to the Capitol, Mr. Mayr said. When he saw the crowd going that way, he decided to follow, he added.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Grider entered the scaffolding on the northwest terrace of the Capitol “with a crowd of rioters who had pushed through a police line.”

Once he was inside the Capitol, Mr. Grider found the electrical utility box and tried to shut off the power, according to court records.

He then joined “another group of rioters who pushed through a police line,” prosecutors said.

Mr. Grider eventually made his way to the Speaker’s Lobby door and watched members of Congress and their staffs evacuate, court records state.

“He gave his helmet to another rioter and pushed on the door,” prosecutors said. “The rioter proceeded to use the helmet to break the windows in the door.”

When other people screamed, “gun,” Mr. Grider was seen backing away from the Speaker’s Lobby door.

That was the moment that Ashli Babbitt, 35, an Air Force veteran from Southern California, was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer as she clambered through a broken window leading to the Speaker’s Lobby.

After the shooting, Mr. Grider leaned over the railing to get a better view of Ms. Babbitt, who was bleeding on the floor, prosecutors said.

Court documents said it appeared that Mr. Grider had held his phone over the stairway to capture a video or pictures of her.

Mr. Mayr said his client, who had been swept up by the mob mentality prevalent that day, admits that he made “several poor decisions.”

“He was devastated by what had happened,” Mr. Mayr said. “He was devastated by what took place.”

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