NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A Connecticut man who used a stolen riot shield to pin a police officer in a doorframe during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol was sentenced Friday to more than seven years in prison for his role.
Patrick E. McCaughey III of Ridgefield was convicted in a September 2022 bench trial of seven felony and two misdemeanor offenses. Evidence showed McCaughey pinning a police officer with a riot shield in a Capitol doorway for more than two minutes.
Federal prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of 15 years and eight months for McCaughey, 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. He was also ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution.
McFadden described McCaughey as a “poster child of all that was dangerous and appalling about” the insurrection.
“Your actions are some of the most egregious crimes that were committed on that dark day,” the judge told McCaughey.
McCaughey was found guilty of seven felony charges:
- Three counts of aiding or abetting or assaulting, resisting, or impeding law enforcement officers, including one involving a dangerous weapon;
- One count of obstruction of an official proceeding;
- One count of interfering with a law enforcement officer during a civil disorder;
- One count of disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; and
- One count of engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon
He was found guilty of two misdemeanor charges:
- One count of disorderly conduct in a Capitol Building; and
- One count of committing an act of violence in the Capitol Building or grounds
McCaughey’s 90-month sentence matches the second-longest prison sentence so far for a Capitol riot defendant. It’s the same length as the sentence that another judge handed down to Albuquerque Cosper Head, a Tennessee man who dragged Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone into a crowd of rioters.
Nine people, including McCaughey, were charged together with joining one of the most brutal clashes at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Police and rioters were fighting for control of a tunnel entrance on the Lower West Terrace when MPD 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 testified at McCaughey’s trial and spoke at his sentencing hearing Friday and said he thinks about the horrors of Jan. 6 every day.
“I do not foresee that changing anytime soon,” he told the judge, describing McCaughey as a “foot soldier” who was at “the vanguard of the assault.”
Hodges screamed for help when another rioter grabbed the officer’s baton and struck him in the face with it.
“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.
Earlier this year, the judge sentenced four of McCaughey’s co-defendants to terms of imprisonment ranging from 14 months to five years. Paschall argued that McCaughey’s conduct was more “egregious and protracted” than the others’.
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.
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.
Material from The Associated Press was also used in this report.