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Man who bragged that he ‘fed’ an officer to the mob of Capitol rioters gets nearly 5 years in prison

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press
Published: May 2, 2024, 11:38am

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Georgia business owner who bragged that he “fed” a police officer to a mob of rioters storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced on Thursday to nearly five years in prison for his repeated attacks on law enforcement during the insurrection.

Jack Wade Whitton struck an officer with a metal crutch and dragged him — head first and face down — into the crowd on the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace. Whitton later boasted in a text message that he “fed him to the people.”

Roughly 20 minutes later, Whitton tried to pull a second officer into the crowd, prosecutors say. He also kicked at, threatened and threw a construction pylon at officers trying to hold off the mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters.

“You’re gonna die tonight!” he shouted at police after striking an officer’s riot shield.

Whitton, of Locust Grove, Georgia, expressed remorse for his “horrible” actions on Jan. 6 before U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras sentenced him to four years and nine months in prison. The 33-year-old will get credit for the three years that he has been jailed since his arrest.

“I tell you with confidence: I have changed,” Whitton told the judge.

Whitton, who pleaded guilty to an assault charge last year, told the judge that he has never been a “political person.”

“I’ve never been a troublemaker. I’ve always been a hard worker and a law-abiding citizen,” he said.

The judge said the videos of Whitton attacking police are “gruesome.”

“You really were out of control,” the judge told him.

Prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of eight years and one month for Whitton, who owned and operated his own fence building company before his April 2021 arrest.

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“Whitton looked for opportunities to attack: In his three documented assaults, he was either a leader or a solitary actor,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

Videos show that contemporaneous attacks on police by Whitton and a co-defendant, Justin Jersey, “ignited the rageful onslaught of violence that followed” on the Lower West Terrace, prosecutors said.

“As Whitton and Jersey commenced their assaults, the tenor of the crowd audibly changed,” they wrote. “Other rioters surged towards the Archway and joined the attack, throwing objects at the officers and striking at them with makeshift weapons such as a hockey stick, a pieces of wood, a flagpole, and a police riot shield.”

Whitton was among nine defendants charged in the same attack. Two co-defendants, Logan Barnhart and Jeffrey Sabol, helped Whitton drag an officer into the crowd before other rioters beat the officer with a flagpole and a stolen police baton.

That evening, Whitton texted somebody images of his bloodied hands.

“This is from a bad cop,” he wrote. “Yea I fed him to the people. (I don’t know) his status. And don’t care (to be honest).”

Defense attorney Komron Jon Maknoon said Whitton traveled to Washington to support his girlfriend because she wanted to “witness an historic event” on Jan. 6, when Trump, a Republican, held a rally as Congress was about to certify his 2020 presidential election loss to Joe Biden, a Democrat.

“While his motives were not politically driven, he does possess a genuine love for his country and shares the desire for a free and fair election, much like any other citizen,” Maknoon wrote.

The judge previously sentenced seven of Whitton’s co-defendants to prison terms ranging from two years and six months to five years and 10 months.

More than 1,350 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot. Over 850 of them have been sentenced, with roughly two-thirds receiving a term of imprisonment ranging from a few days to 22 years.

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