Capitol Rioter Who Led Assault on Police with Megaphone Sentenced to Over 7 Years in Prison

By: Georgia | Published: Apr 04, 2024

Taylor James Johnatakis, a man from Washington state, used a megaphone to direct a mob attacking police officers at the US Capitol. 

He has been sentenced to over seven years in prison for his role in the events. 

Captured on Video

US District Judge Royce Lamberth mentioned that videos showed Johnatakis in a leadership position during the January 6 riot. 

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A composite image showing two close-up views of a bearded man in clear glasses and a red baseball cap. On the left, he is shouting into a microphone, his mouth open mid-speech, and on the right, he appears to be yelling animatedly with a distorted expression

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The footage captured him actively directing other rioters and playing a significant part in the violence against police lines, showcasing his involvement beyond just participation.

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A Leader Among Rioters

The judge stated, “In any angry mob, there are leaders and there are followers. Mr. Johnatakis was a leader. He knew what he was doing that day,” emphasizing the pivotal role Johnatakis played during the riot. 

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A bearded man in a red baseball cap and sunglasses stands prominently among a crowd at the Capitol protest

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This distinction marks him as more than just a participant, underlining his active engagement in the events of that day.

Questioning Repentance

During his sentencing, Johnatakis, representing himself with an attorney on standby, asked the judge, “Does the record reflect that I repent in my sins?” 

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A night scene shows law enforcement in riot gear forming a barrier in front of the illuminated Capitol building. Officers hold shields marked "POLICE," standing firm as they face a crowd not fully visible in the frame

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This question suggests an attempt to express remorse, yet the judge dismissed his query, focusing on the legal proceedings.

From Septic Systems to the Capitol

Johnatakis, a self-employed septic systems installer, was recommended by prosecutors to receive a nine-year prison sentence. 

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A multitude of demonstrators wave an array of banners and American flags in front of the Capitol Building

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They highlighted his leadership, organization, and encouragement of the assault on Capitol officers on January 6, indicating his significant departure from his professional life to engage in the riot.

Conviction and Sentencing

After a trial last year in Washington DC, a jury convicted Taylor James Johnatakis of felony charges, including obstruction of the January 6 joint session of Congress and assault and civil disorder charges. 

A scene from the Capitol grounds shows a cloud of yellow smoke enveloping the area where protestors have gathered. Several American flags and political banners, including one reading "TRUMP 2020"

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His conviction led to the sentence of seven years and three months, reflecting the seriousness of his actions during the riot.

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The Rally That Led to Riot

Johnatakis was seen with a megaphone strapped to his back, marching to the Capitol from a rally. 

A crowd of people at a political demonstration, many wearing red hats, are holding up a variety of flags and banners. American flags are prominent, along with blue banners supporting "TRUMP PENCE 2020"

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He used the megaphone to amplify his message, declaring, “It’s over. Michael Pence has voted against the president. We are down to the nuclear option,” rallying supporters into action.

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Initiating the Assault

CBS News reports that Johnatakis chased police officers, signaling other rioters to prepare for an attack. 

A line of police officers in black tactical gear, some with face shields down, stand behind yellow caution tape at a public demonstration. Behind them, protesters can be seen holding flags, including one with the words "TRUMP PENCE"

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His shouts of “Go!” encouraged the mob to push a metal barricade against a line of police officers, demonstrating his role in escalating the violence.

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Social Media Proclamation

The Guardian reports that after leaving the Capitol, Johnatakis declared on social media, “The crime is complete,” indicating a sense of accomplishment in his actions during the riot. 

Protesters gather on the Capitol's lawn in the early evening, with a large American flag prominently displayed in the foreground

Source: Wikimedia Commons

He was then eventually arrested in February 2021.

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Part of a Larger Group

Johnatakis is among over 1,350 people charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot. 

A busy street scene with a multitude of people marching towards the US Capitol Building, visible in the distance. The crowd, dotted with American flags and political banners, stretches down the avenue under an overcast sky

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Over 800 individuals have been sentenced, with sentences ranging from several days to 22 years.

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Defiance in Court

A related case saw Marc Bru, a member of the Proud Boys extremist group, sentenced to six years after he insulted the judge, demonstrating a lack of remorse. 

A crowd of people gathered at the Capitol. People are holding various flags and signs

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His defiant statements in court echo a broader sentiment among some participants of the riot, facing the legal consequences of their actions.

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A Reflection on Justice

The sentencing of individuals like Taylor James Johnatakis and Marc Bru serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of participating in and leading violent actions against democratic institutions. 

A crowd of people holding various flags, including American flags are gathered outside of the Capitol building

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These sentences illustrate the legal system’s response to the events of January 6, holding individuals accountable for their roles in the riot.

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