WASHINGTON - A federal judge on Wednesday announced a prison sentence of 41 months for a New Jersey gym owner who punched a law enforcement officer during the riot at the U.S. Capitol — the first rioter sentenced for violence against police during the attack.
District Judge Royce Lamberth said Fairlamb's actions struck at "the heart of our democracy." Fairlamb had pleaded guilty, avoiding a trial.
"Had you gone to trial, I don't think there's any jury that could have acquitted you or would have acquitted you," the judge said.
Fairlamb, a boxing coach and former mixed martial arts fighter, apologized and expressed remorse for actions that he described as irresponsible and reckless.
Scott Fairlamb is pictured at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as shown in court documents from the Department of Justice. (Credit: U.S Department of Justice)
"I take full responsibility for what I did that day," Fairlamb said. "That's not who I am. That's not who I was raised to be."
Prosecutors said Fairlamb, who was one of the first rioters to breach the Capitol, incited and emboldened other rioters around him with his violent actions. Fairlamb pleaded guilty to two counts, obstruction of an official proceeding and assaulting the police officer.
"Law enforcement officers were overwhelmed, outnumbered, and in some cases, in serious danger. The rule of law was not only disrespected; it was under attack that day," prosecutors previously wrote in a court filing.
The sentence is slightly less than the 44 months prosecutors recommended earlier this month.
Still, Fairlamb's sentence is currently the longest for a rioter. Previously, an 8-month prison term was the longest sentence among the nearly two dozen rioters who have been sentenced so far. A man who posted threats connected to Jan. 6 but didn't storm the Capitol was sentenced to 14 months in prison.
Fairlamb joined a group of rioters who pushed through a line of police officers and metal barricades on the Capitol's West Terrace. He recorded a video of himself shouting, "What (do) patriots do? We f——— disarm them and then we storm the f——— Capitol!"
Fairlamb carried a police baton into the Capitol, then left the building and approached several Metropolitan Police Department officers, screaming as he followed them. Fairlamb shoved one of the officers and punched his face shield.
FILE - Rioters storm the United States Capitol building on Jan. 6. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The officer wasn't injured but described Jan. 6 as the scariest day of his career, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Goemaat told the judge.
Fairlamb's sentencing could guide other judges in deciding the appropriate punishment for dozens of other rioters who engaged in violence at the Capitol that day.
Judge Lamberth said it was significant that his sentencing of Fairlamb was the first for assaulting an officer, with more guilty pleas likely in the coming months.
Other defendants are soon to face sentencing, including the shirtless rioter who called himself the "QAnon Shaman." Jacob Chansley, who wore face paint and a furry hat with horns when he stormed the Capitol, became "the public face of the Capitol riot." prosecutors said in a court filing late Tuesday. They recommended a longer prison sentence, four years and three months, when the Arizona man is sentenced next Wednesday.
More than 100 law enforcement officers were injured during the deadly insurrection, according to prosecutors. At least nine people who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 died during or after the rioting, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who collapsed after he was sprayed by rioters with a chemical irritant. Four other police officers have died by suicide.
Fairlamb’s social media accounts indicated that he subscribed to the QAnon conspiracy theory and promoted a bogus claim that former President Donald Trump would become the first president of "the new Republic" on March 4, prosecutors wrote. QAnon has centered on the baseless belief that Trump was fighting against a cabal of Satan-worshipping, child sex trafficking cannibals, including "deep state" enemies, prominent Democrats and Hollywood elites.
This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.