Attack on US Capitol: Former Air Force officer jailed


A retired Air Force officer who stormed the US Capitol in riot gear and carried zip-tie handcuffs into the Senate gallery was sentenced to two years in prison on Friday.

Larry Brock, 55, of Grapevine, Texas, joined other Senate rioters just minutes after then-Vice President Mike Pence, senators and their staff evacuated the chamber to escape mobs who invaded the building on Jan. 6 2021 attack.

US District Judge John Bates also sentenced Brock to two years of supervised imprisonment after serving his sentence and ordered him to do 100 hours of community service. Brock, who refused to speak in court before the judge handed down his sentence, remains free until he is due to report to jail at a date to be determined.

Prosecutors had recommended a five-year prison sentence, followed by a three-year supervised parole.

Bates convicted Brock in November after a trial without a jury. Brock waived his right to a jury trial.

The judge said Brock had expressed “very disturbing” and violent rhetoric before the Jan. 6 riot. The judge read out several of Brock’s social media posts and called it “really quite amazing” that a former senior military officer uttered the words.

“This is terrifying stuff, and it reflects the purpose of stopping certification of choice,” Bates said.

Brock believed unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Republican incumbent Donald Trump, prosecutors said.

“If we get to the bottom of this conspiracy, we must execute the traitors who are trying to steal the election, and that includes the media and social media leaders who are helping and supporting the coup plotters,” Brock wrote in a statement November 9, 2020, post on Facebook.

In a Facebook message to another user on Christmas Eve on Jan. 6, Brock outlined what he called an “action plan if Congress doesn’t act.” One of the “key tasks” in his plan was to “grab all Democratic politicians and key Biden personnel and select Republicans.”

“Start interrogations using measures we used at al-Qaeda to obtain evidence of the coup,” he wrote.

Brock flew combat missions in Afghanistan before retiring from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel.

His “plan of action” also called for a “general pardon for all crimes, up to and including murder, of those who restore the Constitution and crush the Democratic Uprising.”

“Only kill LEO if necessary,” he wrote, apparently referring to the police officers.

Brock did not take part in violence on Jan. 6, but prosecutors said his behavior was “disturbingly premeditated.”

“Had the Senate gallery not been emptied minutes earlier, Brock could have faced the politicians he dreamed of arresting and interrogating,” they wrote in a court filing.

Bates convicted Brock on all six counts of his indictment, including obstructing an official hearing of the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress to confirm President Joe Biden’s election victory. The charge of disability is a crime; the other five counts are misdemeanor offenses.

Defense attorney Charles Burnham said it was “inconceivable that (Brock) was motivated by anything other than a genuine concern for democracy”.

“If Mr. Brock was genuinely motivated by lofty ideals, even if the court should privately disagree with his view, that greatly reduces his criminal responsibility,” Burnham wrote in a court filing.

Brock attended the “Stop the Steal” rally where Trump addressed a crowd of supporters on Jan. 6. He was wearing a helmet and tactical vest when he joined the mob attacking the Capitol. He entered the building through Senate double doors about 12 minutes after other rioters initially breached them.

On the ground near the East Rotunda stairs, Brock picked up a discarded pair of zip-tie handcuffs. In the Senate gallery, he held the “flex cuffs” in his right hand. At the Senate level, he examined papers on Senators’ desks.

“This was consistent with Brock’s stated overall mission on Jan. 6, which was to gather intelligence to stop the certification and transfer of power,” prosecutors wrote.

Brock graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1989. He was on active duty until 1998 and served in the reserve until 2014.

In a letter to the judge, a retired Air Force major general praised Brock’s military service. The major general, whose name has been blacked out from public court filings, said Brock risked his life to protect US forces from a Taliban attack when he flew under mountain peaks into a valley “saturated with enemy forces”.

“The result thwarted enemy advances on US personnel, saved US lives and defused an ever-escalating situation for forces at this remote base in Afghanistan,” the major general wrote.

Brock was employed as a commercial airline pilot on January 6. His attorney said the Federal Aviation Administration revoked Brock’s licenses after his arrest in January 2021.

About 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the January 6 riot. More than 400 of them were convicted, with more than half receiving prison sentences ranging from seven days to 10 years.

At least 70 of the convicted rioters served in the military, according to an Associated Press review of court records.

Also on Friday, a rioter who enlisted in the Air Force after an attack on police at the Capitol was sentenced to three years and four months in prison by US District Judge Reggie Walton. Aiden Bilyard was 18 when he sprayed a chemical irritant on a line of police officers before smashing a window in the Capitol with a baseball bat.

Bilyard was attending basic training at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas when the FBI interrogated him a few months after the riot. He later retired from the Air Force and returned to Cary, North Carolina. Bilyard, now 20, pleaded guilty to assault last year.


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