Jan. 6 rioter who threatened Rep. Ocasio-Cortez gets 3 years
A Texas man who threatened U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter after he stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 was sentenced on Wednesday to more than three years in prison.
Garret Miller was wearing a shirt that read “I Was There, Washington D.C., January 6, 2021” with a picture on President Donald Trump on it when law enforcement officers showed up at his Dallas-area home to arrest him two weeks after the riot. Miller has already spent more than two years behind bars since his arrest, and with credit for good behavior, he's expected to serve another eight months, according to his lawyer, F. Clinton Broden.
Miller, a 36-year-old from Richardson, was among the many rioters who thoroughly documented their actions that day in a flurry of social media posts. After Miller posted a selfie showing himself inside the Capitol, a friend wrote, “bro you got in?! Nice!” Miller replied, “just wanted to incriminate myself a little lol,” according to court papers.
On Jan. 6, he helped lead the charge as rioters removed barriers and swarmed the east front of the Capitol, prosecutors said. He was twice briefly detained by police but released and told to leave as overwhelmed officers struggled to beat back the mob, prosecutors said.
Instead of leaving, Miller went inside the Capitol, where authorities say he was aggressive toward police and ignored their commands as they tried to force him to exit. He grabbed at one officer's baton and put his hand on another as he resisted being pushed out of the Rotunda, according to prosecutors.
The night of Jan. 6, Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat who represents parts of New York City, tweeted the word “Impeach.” Miller responded to her on Twitter with: “Assassinate AOC." The next day, he bragged to a friend in a message that the rioters “terrified congress," prosecutors say.
Shortly after the 2020 election, he also sent a threatening message to the Instagram account of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, writing “we are coming for you," according to prosecutors. U.S. Capitol Police referred the threat to the FBI, who at that point were already investigating Miller for his Jan. 6 actions, prosecutors say. He was not charged with threatening Schumer.
Days after the riot, Miller was sharing photos of the officer he believed fatally shot Ashli Babbitt at the Capitol, prosecutors say. In a Facebook message on Jan. 10, Miller said he and others were going to get a hold of the officer and “hug his neck with a nice rope," according to court papers.
Miller's attorney had asked the judge to impose time served, while prosecutors had sought four years in prison.
Miller's attorney said in court documents that despite his client's tweet about Ocasio-Cortez and messages about the officer, “there is no indication that he made any effort whatsoever to actually harm anybody.”
“It should be always be remembered that, although Garret is fully responsible for his individual actions that day, his actions and the actions of many others were a product of rhetoric from a cult leader that has yet to be brought to justice,” Broden said in an email Wednesday. "Garret Miller was not the name on the flag carried by those who invaded our Capitol on this dark day in our nation’s history. “
In a letter to the judge, Miller called his social media posts “disgusting and a complete embarrassment” and apologized to Ocasio-Cortez, Schumer, the officer who shot Babbitt and the other officers Miller interacted with on Jan. 6.
“I feel a deep remorse for not being helpful to police that day and aiding in destruction and pain. It was unnecessary, barbaric, and disrespectful. I was proud, arrogant, and acted in anger. I needed to be humbled” he wrote.
Miller pleaded guilty in December to charges including interfering with law enforcement during a civil disorder, assaulting, resisting or impeding officers and threatening Ocasio-Cortez.
Miller was charged separately this month in Texas federal court with one count of possession of an unregistered firearm, according to court documents. When he was arrested on the Jan. 6 charges, authorities found an AR-style rifle at his home that had been configured to fire like a machine gun.
He's among nearly 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 riot and more than 500 who have pleaded guilty. About 400 rioters have been sentenced, with over half getting terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to 10 years.
Richer reported from Boston. Associated Press reporter Lindsay Whitehurst contributed from Washington.
Follow the AP’s coverage of the Capitol riot at https://apnews.com/hub/capitol-siege