‘I hate what I did.’ NC man to serve 7 months for striking cop during Capitol riot
Grayson Sherrill on Friday apologized for his actions during the Capitol riot, particularly when the-then 21-year-old Gaston County man struck a police officer with a broken metal pipe outside the building.
“I really want to say that I recognize that what I did was wrong,” Sherrill, now 24, told U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan in her Washington, D.C., courtroom.
“I’ve had two years to really think about it. At the time, I let the chaos control what I did.”
Chutkan made sure Sherrill will have some additional time for self-reflection.
She sentenced the Cherryville man to seven months in federal prison after he had earlier pleaded guilty to a felony charge of assaulting a police officer.
Sherrill also will serve 12 months of supervised release and must pay a special $2,000 fine for damaging the Capitol.
He is one of at least 28 North Carolinians federally charged in connection with the violence, during which thousands of supporters of Donald Trump attacked the Capitol to stop the transfer of presidential power.
The riot has been linked to as many as seven deaths; 140 police officers were injured; more than 1,000 arrests have been made. More arrests in North Carolina are expected.
The judge’s punishment was only a fraction of what the government said Sherrill deserved.
Prosecutors argued for 41 months, the mid-point of the sentencing range of 37-46 months calculated for Sherrill’s case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Manning said Sherrill, who initially claimed he had picked up the broken rod as a souvenir, swung it at Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges when Hodges was most vulnerable — separated from his fellow officers in the middle of an angry mob while being attacked by another rioter.
According to court filings, Hodges, who later was badly beaten with his own baton, was not injured by Sherrill’s blow nor even recalled the incident.
But Manning told Chutkan that Sherrill had been an “extensive participant” in an unprecedented domestic assault on U.S. democracy. Government documents allege that Sherrill later entered the Capitol with two York County, S.C., companions, pounded on an office door with his rod; and joined a mob chanting “Nancy, Nancy” as it hunted for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Afterward, on the return trip to the Carolinas, Sherrill bragged to Elliot Bishai and Elias Irizarry, a student at The Citadel, that he had struck a police officer, government documents claim.
In response, defense attorney Joanne Slaight said Sherrill’s one blow at Hodges was her client’s “single act” of violence the entire day.
The Washington lawyer cited Sherrill’s age, his level of remorse, his lack of any criminal record, his support from his community, even his burgeoning art career, in recommending that Chutkan place Sherrill either on house arrest or send him to a halfway house in Charlotte.
Chutkan, an appointee of President Barack Obama who had earlier sentenced Irizarry and Bishai to 14-day jail sentences for misdemeanor offenses, would not go that far.
But while she said Sherrill had committed serious crimes carrying significant consequences, she concluded that they were out of character, and that the government’s sentencing recommendation was excessive.
Chutkan said she will recommend that Sherrill serve his sentence in the Butner federal prison north of Durham so he could be closer to friends and family. She also allowed him to voluntarily report when summoned by the Bureau of Prisons.
Nonetheless, she criticized Sherrill for attacking a police officer, even if it had been with only one swing of his arm.
“There’s a lot of rhetoric around (Jan. 6) about ‘patriots,’” she said. “The only true patriots that day were the law enforcement officers working to keep the mob from hurting members of Congress and their staffs ... just trying to stay alive ... slipping in their own blood.”
In his earlier remarks, Sherrill said he had come to realize that he was not just a spectator to the violence but had allowed himself to join in.
He said he has apologized in writing to Hodges.
“I’m very thankful that he wasn’t hurt,” he said. “I completely misunderstood the situation. I saw him wrestling with another man. I know now that the other man was in the wrong. I helped the man instead. I immediately regretted that.
“I hate what I did two years ago.”
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