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January 6 rioter who formed his own militia sentenced to more than 4 years for assaulting officer

<i>US Department of Justice</i><br/>Lucas Denney
US Department of Justice
Lucas Denney

By Holmes Lybrand, CNN

A Capitol rioter who created his own militia, raised funds, and worked to recruit others to join him in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021, was sentenced on Wednesday to 52 months behind bars for assaulting a police officer during the attack.

Before handing down his sentence, US District Judge Randolph Moss said Lucas Denney “came looking for a fight” on January 6, citing messages from Denney where he planned for the event, discussed purchasing pepper spray and armor for his trip to DC, and recruited one other person to join him.

Denney, the self-declared leader of the Patriot Boys of North Texas, pleaded guilty to the initial assault charge in March after the Justice Department failed to secure an indictment in the allotted time, thereby violating his right to a speedy trial.

During the attack, Denney attempted to pull barricades away from a line of police officers several times and later attempted to take a police officer’s baton. Denney also swung a pole made of PVC at a police officer but hit a photojournalist instead, according to a joint statement from the government and Denney’s attorney, William Shipley.

Moss lambasted Denney for his “multiple and sustained” attacks on police, including one instance where he punched a police officer’s face shield. The government also played video during Wednesday’s hearing of Denney entering the Lower West Terrace tunnel, where one of the most violent onslaughts against police occurred that day.

Denney could be seen in the video pushing on police officers with a riot shield. Moss said he had no doubt after viewing additional footage that after exiting the tunnel “Mr. Denney was trying to take a swing at officer (Michael) Fanone” who was being dragged out of the tunnel by others in the mob, who beat and electrocuted the officer.

Fanone has since left the force and is now a contributor with CNN.

“The attacks occurred in the context of an assault on our democracy,” Moss concluded.

Planning for January 6

Prior to January 6, Denney had raised enough funds online for himself and another member of his group — Donald Hazard — to travel to DC, according to court documents.

Hazard, whom Denney recruited as his “Sergeant at Arms” and bodyguard for January 6, has been charged with several counts, including assaulting, resisting or impeding police as well as obstructing an official proceeding.

According to prosecutors, Hazard grappled with officers during the Capitol attack during which one officer fell down some stairs with Hazard and was knocked unconscious.

Hazard has pleaded not guilty and is considering a plea offer by the government, according to court filings.

Denney also attempted to recruit others through Facebook to join him and Hazard in DC, telling them the cost of the trip would be covered and that he had “plenty of donations.”

In one such message in December, Denney said that then-Vice President Mike Pence would “throw out all the votes” from states with alleged voter fraud, keeping then-President Donald Trump in power.

“There’s so much more going on behind the scenes though,” Denney wrote. “That’s why he’s called this rally for support. Trump will stay President. That’s why I’ve been super busy. I’m the President of the Patriot Boys in North Texas and have over 200 guys.”

According to prosecutors, Denney purchased several items in preparing for the trip, including a helmet for Hazard as well as pepper spray, which they say he deployed against police during the attack.

The militia leader also touted his connections to the right-wing group the Proud Boys and told Hazard they would be staying at a hotel in DC with members of the organization.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Shipley told Moss that Denney was being hyperbolic when discussing his connections to the Proud Boys but couldn’t explain how the group provided hotel rooms for Denney.

Before Moss handed down his sentence, Denney told the judge he had “no intent to hurt anyone whatsoever” that day and asked the judge to consider the impact the sentence would have on his family.

“Please, end this nightmare soon,” Denney said.

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