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Ridgefield man gets more than 7 years in prison for role in January 6 attack on U.S. Capitol

In this screen grab from video, Ridgefield, Connecticut resident Patrick McCaughey is shown in the Lower West Terrace tunnel of the US Capitol building on January 6, 2020. Federal prosecutors said he used a police riot shield to pin an officer to a door frame, as a crowd of rioters in the tunnel fought with officers and tried to force their way into the building.
CREDIT: Courtesy of US Attorney's office for the District of Columbia
In this screen grab from video, Patrick McCaughey of Ridgefield, Connecticut, is shown in the Lower West Terrace tunnel of the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021. Federal prosecutors said he used a police riot shield to pin an officer to a door frame as a crowd of rioters in the tunnel fought with officers and tried to force their way into the building.

Updated April 14, 2023 at 2:50 PM ET

A man who used a stolen riot shield to crush a police officer in a doorframe during the U.S. Capitol insurrection was sentenced on Friday to more than seven years in prison for his role in one of the most violent episodes of the Jan. 6 attack.

Federal prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of 15 years and eight months for Patrick McCaughey III, which would have been the longest sentence for a Capitol riot case by more than five years.

U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden sentenced McCaughey to seven years and six months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. The judge described McCaughey, 25, as a “poster child of all that was dangerous and appalling about” the Jan. 6, 2021, riot.

“Your actions are some of the most egregious crimes that were committed on that dark day,” the judge told McCaughey.

McCaughey, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, expressed shame for joining the mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters who “violated” the Capitol.

“I'm sorry that I conducted myself less like a citizen and more like an animal that day,” he said.

McCaughey was convicted by the judge of nine counts, including felony assault charges, after the judge heard trial testimony without a jury in September.

His 90-month sentence matches the second longest prison sentence so far for a Capitol riot defendant.

Federal prosecutors said McCaughey entered the U.S. Capitol after attending a rally held by former President Trump where he urged his then-supporters to march on the Capitol.

Court filings show that McCaughey climbed the steps of scaffolding at the Capitol and took a selfie, which he sent to his friends in Connecticut.

McCaughey then made his way down to the inaugural platform, and into the Lower West Terrace tunnel, where police and rioters were fighting for control of an entrance. Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges came face to face with McCaughey, who used a stolen riot shield to pin Hodges to a metal doorframe.

“Go home!” McCaughey shouted at the officer.

Hodges, who testified at McCaughey's trial and spoke at his sentencing hearing, said he thinks about the horrors of Jan. 6 every day.

Hodges screamed out for help when another rioter grabbed the officer's baton and struck him in the face with it.

The officer was bleeding from the face, and screaming in pain. Federal prosecutors said the Lower West Terrace tunnel was the site of some of the fiercest fighting at the Capitol that day. That part of McCaughey's role in the riot was captured on video.

"It was only then, over two minutes after the assault began, that McCaughey relented and pulled Officer Hodges’s face shield down over his eyes," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Paschall wrote in a court filing.

Hodges managed to retreat inside the Capitol building and was taken to a hospital. McCaughey struck a second officer with the shield before another officer sprayed him with a chemical irritant, backing him away.

McCaughey's attorneys requested a sentence of one year behind bars. They said McCaughey's “reprehensible” actions were motivated by his “misunderstanding” about the 2020 presidential election. Trump, the Republican incumbent, falsely claimed that Democrats stole the election from him.

“There remain many grifters out there who remain free to continue propagating the ‘great lie’ that Trump won the election, Donald Trump being among the most prominent. Mr. McCaughey is not one of these individuals; he knows he was wrong,” his lawyers wrote.

More than 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the deadly Jan. 6 riot. Over 600 of them have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trials decided by a jury or a judge. Over 450 of them have been sentenced, with more than half getting terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to 10 years.

Asked for his reaction to McCaughey's sentence, Officer Hodges said it depends on what happens when his assailant is released from prison.

“We'll see if he's a changed man,” Hodges said outside the courtroom.

This story has been updated. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Matt Dwyer is an editor, reporter and midday host for Connecticut Public's news department. He produces local news during All Things Considered.