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Capitol rioter who caused career-ending injury to USCP sergeant convicted on 11 counts

Judge found Kyle Fitzsimons, of Maine, guilty of seven felony counts of four misdemeanors for repeatedly attacking police on Jan. 6.

WASHINGTON — A federal judge convicted a Maine resident of 11 counts Tuesday for repeatedly assaulting police who were attempting to defend an entrance into the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6.

Kyle Fitzsimons, of Lebanon, Maine, appeared before U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras this week to hear his verdict more than a month after his bench trial concluded. Fitzsimons was indicted last February on 11 counts, including felony counts of obstruction of an official proceeding, civil disorder and four counts of assaulting, resisting or impeding police.

Fitzsimons rejected a plea offer and went to trial in August, facing video footage from multiple angles showing his repeated assaults and the testimony of three officers who took the stand to testify about being attacked. One, DC Police Officer Sarah Beaver, was struck in the head by an unstrung bow Fitzsimons through into the police line in the Lower West Terrace Tunnel. Another, DC Police Officer Phuson Nguyen, said Fitzsimons broke the seal on his gas mask and caused noxious pepper spray to be trapped inside. The third officer, U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, testified that it was Fitzsimons who grabbed his shield and ripped him to the ground – causing an injury to his shoulder that required surgery to repair and which, ultimately, has led to his early medical retirement from the force.

On Tuesday, Contreras said the Justice Department had med its burden to sustain all 11 counts as well as a bodily injury enhancement for the assault on Gonell and a dangerous weapon enhancement for the assault on Beaver. Though Contreras did not find Fitzsimons guilty of a second bodily injury enhancement for the attack on Phuson – saying the video was too chaotic and did not conclusively show Fitzsimons making contact with his mask – he said there was no doubt Fitzsimons’ intention was to assault and injure officers.

“He took every opportunity he had to continue inflicting violence on officers,” Contreras said.

Contreras also said the evidence made it clear Fitzsimons was aware of the certification of electoral votes on Jan. 6, pointing out he’d repeatedly referenced it in a Facebook post attempting to recruit others to join him in D.C. and in menacing voice mails to U.S. Rep Jared Golden (D-ME) prior to the Capitol riot.

Fitzsimons did not testify on his own behalf at trial, and did not present an evidence in his defense. His attorney, federal public defender Natasha Taylor-Smith, suggested in her closing arguments that at least the assault on Officer Beaver had been an attempt to defend another person in the tunnel — but Contreras said there was little to no evidence to support that claim. The judge also rejected a characterization Fitzsimons offered to members of the Lebanon Select Board of being forced by the crowd to continue moving forward to the police line.

“Mr. Fitzsimons could have retreated, but instead he chose to escalate the violence in the tunnel,” Contreras said, later adding, “There was nothing ignorant, mistaken or accidental about his presence there.”

Fitzsimons, having been found guilty of six felony counts with two significant weapon and injury enhancements, could face one of the lengthiest prison sentences to date in a Capitol riot case. Earlier this month, former NYPD officer Thomas Webster was sentenced to 10 years in prison for obstruction and assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon. Last month, Texas Three Percenter Guy Reffitt was ordered to serve seven years in prison for obstruction of an official proceeding, carrying a handgun onto Capitol grounds and threatening to shoot two of his children if they talked to the FBI.

Contreras set sentencing in Fitzsimons’ case for Feb. 17 at 2 p.m.

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