WASHINGTON, D.C. (WFLA) – Largo resident Robert Palmer was sentenced to 63 months in prison on Friday in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington D.C. where he was seen on video throwing a fire extinguisher and other items at Capitol police officers.
Federal investigators have blamed five deaths and about 150 injuries on the assault that stalled the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. There have been 700 arrests so far and an estimated 2,500 people are believed to have taken part in the melee.
Palmer’s 63-month sentence is the longest sentence any of the suspects arrested so far have received.
The 54-year-old sobbed before he pleaded guilty in October to one charge of assaulting law enforcement with dangerous weapons in a plea agreement that included the government dropping three other counts.
He teared up again Friday afternoon telling Judge Tanya Chutkan he was “horrified” after seeing video of himself assaulting Capitol police.
“I’m really, really ashamed of what I did,” Palmer told the court.
But the Judge Tanya Chutkan told Palmer pictures and video showed him watching the assualt from above right before he decided to join in.
She also said the officers were the true patriots, “vastly outnumbered” and not knowing whether they would make it home to see their children that night.
“It has to made clear that what happened cannot happen again,” Chutkan said during the sentencing.
Palmer had asked Chutkan for a downward departure in his sentence based on a number of arguments, including a claim that he did not use an actual weapon in the assault. He also asked the court to consider his difficult childhood that he said included mental and physical abuse.
Video of the January assault implicated Palmer more than once, according to court documents. At one point the 54-year-old tells a camera who he is, where he’s from and that he had been there all day.
Palmer was also recorded throwing a wooden plank at Capitol police and then spraying a fire extinguisher at officers, shortly before throwing it at them. Moments later, surveillance video shows Palmer picking up the same fire extinguisher and throwing it at officers again.
In yet another incident, Palmer was seen throwing a pole “like a spear” at officers shortly before one of them fired a non-lethal projectile at him.
A sentencing document stated Palmer got up after he was hit in the stomach and showed off his injury to the crowd, shouting falsely that he had been shot merely for yelling at the police.
A total of 703 people have been arrested in connection with the siege, according to the George Washington University Program on Extremism. Florida leads the nation with 75 arrested. Twenty, almost a third of the state’s total, are from the Tampa Bay area. Six of the 20 are from Pinellas County, five are from Polk County, four are from Hillsborough County, two are from Manatee and Sarasota Counties and one is from Hernando County.
Palmer is one of 151 from the nation’s total who have pleaded guilty.
Decorated Green Beret Jeremy Brown, featured on a Special Forces poster when he was younger, is the only accused Florida insurrectionist to agree to an interview so far. He spoke exclusively to 8 On Your Side from the Pinellas County Jail, asserting he will never plead guilty.
Brown, who said he was providing security for the speakers taking part in the event before the insurrection, claims during a meeting with the FBI in Ybor City December 9, 2020, agents asked him to infiltrate the Oath Keepers organization.
“I’m not taking any plea deals,” Brown said. “My purpose is to bring attention to the fact that the FBI tried to infiltrate a law-abiding group of American citizens.”
While Florida leads the country in total arrests, the state is fifth per 10,000 residents, according to the GWU report. Washington D.C., Montana, Pennsylvania and Kentucky are the top four respectively. The GWU report stated 80 percent of the charges were prompted by visual and other evidence from the suspects’, their friends’ or other social media accounts.