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Sunday, Feb 25, 2024

A Florida man supported Obama and didn't vote for Trump. Then he stormed the Capitol, pepper-sprayed cops, broke a $2,900 window, and got 4.5 years in prison.

A Florida man supported Obama and didn't vote for Trump. Then he stormed the Capitol, pepper-sprayed cops, broke a $2,900 window, and got 4.5 years in prison.

Mitchell Todd Gardner "slowly started to believe" that the election had been stolen from Trump, his attorneys said.
A federal judge sentenced a Florida man who voted for Obama twice and did not vote for Trump in 2016 to 4.5 years in prison for his participation in the January 6 insurrection.

Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Mitchell Todd Gardner II, 34, of Seffner, Florida, to 55 months in federal prison on Friday in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.

Mehta also ordered Gardner to pay $3,500 in restitution and to stay under supervised release for 36 months after he leaves prison.

Prosecutors charged Gardner with obstructing an official proceeding, knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon, according to a criminal complaint.

Attorneys for Gardner argued in a sentencing memorandum filed on March 3 that he grew up in a red state, which explains the "huge discrepancy between his life and nonviolent choices otherwise, and his behavior the day of January 6." Gardner's attorneys said he voted for Obama "both times" and "did not vote for Donald Trump when he ran for office."

It's unclear if Gardner voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Farheena Siddiqui, Gardner's attorney, did not immediately return Insider's request for comment on Sunday.

"He believed President Trump's candidacy to be a joke, a publicity event for a celebrity," the sentencing memorandum states.

After President Joe Biden was announced as the winner of the 2020 presidential election, Trump's misinformation caused Gardner to believe "that the election had been stolen and the way of life in America was about to change," the document says.

Gardner had never been politically active before 2020, but during Trump's presidency he "flourished financially," which led him to believe the misinformation that Trump was spreading, his attorneys said.

According to the DOJ, Gardner sprayed Capitol Police officers with a Metropolitan Police Department pepper spray canister in the Lower West Terrace Tunnel of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

"The contents hit one officer directly in the face shield and splattered onto at least two additional officers," the DOJ said in the release. "This caused the officers to cough for an extended period and also burned their eyes."

Gardner also used the pepper spray canister to smash a window into the Senate Terrace Room which cost $2,900 to replace, according to the DOJ. After entering the window, Gardner handed another rioter a wooden table leg that they used to attack police, the release says.

On Saturday, Trump called on his supporter to "protest" and "take our nation back" in a post on Truth Social after he predicted his own potential indictment before a New York grand jury. The language was reminiscent of his December 2020 tweet that asked his followers to converge on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

So far, police have charged at least 1,003 people with crimes in connection to the Capitol insurrection. At least 476 Capitol rioters have so far pleaded guilty for their roles.
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