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Rioter who dragged Officer Fanone into mob sentenced to 7.5 years in prison

Prosecutors said in a sentencing memo Albuquerque Cosper Head participated in some of the most "barbaric violence" on Jan. 6, 2021.

WASHINGTON — The Tennessee man who dragged former DC Police Officer Michael Fanone into the mob on Jan. 6 was sentenced Thursday to more than seven years in prison for initiating one of the most violent assaults on law enforcement that day.

Albuquerque Cosper Head, a construction worker from Johnson City, Tennessee, pleaded guilty in May to one felony count of assaulting police. Head was one of a number of men charged in connection with the brutal assault on Fanone – among them his co-defendant Kyle Young, who pleaded guilty to the same count and was sentenced last month to seven years in prison.

In a sentencing memo filed Wednesday, the Justice Department asked for Head to serve 96 months in prison, which is the maximum allowed by statute. Prosecutors said a longer sentence for Head was warranted because of his lengthy criminal history, which includes 45 prior arrests and multiple convictions for domestic violence, and his role in initiating the assault on Fanone. Head also claimed to police after his arrest that he had been trapped in the Lower West Terrace Tunnel by the crowd.

“This claim is flatly contradicted by video evidence depicting his willful and persistent participation in some of the most barbaric violence on January 6,” assistant U.S. attorneys Cara Gardner and Kimberly Paschall wrote in their memo.

According to the memo, Head joined in the mob’s assault on police in the tunnel and used a stolen riot shield to strike toward officers. When he lost control of the shield and rioters were pushed out of the tunnel, Head wrapped his arm around the neck of Fanone – who was on the front line – and yelled, “I’ve got on!” as he dragged him into the mob.

“Head continued to restrain Officer Fanone while another rioter applied a taser to the base of the officer’s skull. Head only let go when Officer Fanone reacted with enough force to free himself from Head’s grip,” prosecutors wrote. “Although Head was separated from Officer Fanone in the moments that followed, Head would have been able to hear the sound of the taser being activated again, Officer Fanone’s screams of agony, and the yells from another rioter to ‘Kill him with his own gun!’ Head forced his way back through the crowd as a group of rioters began to surround the officer to protect him from his attackers. Undeterred, Head reached toward Officer Fanone repeatedly, grabbing onto the officer and trying to regain control until one of Fanone’s protectors forcibly pushed Head away.”

At the sentencing hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Amy B. Jackson acknowledged Head's acceptance of responsibility in the case and the letters she received from his fiancée and sister about how his family, including his young children, have suffered in his absence. She also gave him credit for achieving sobriety seven years ago. But, she rejected the defense's characterization that Head and Fanone had gotten "entangled" and attorney Nicholas Wallace's argument that Head wasn't responsible for the continued attacks on Fanone after he escaped his restraint.

"He was your prey," Jackson told Head. "He was your trophy."

Jackson, who also sentenced Head's co-defendant Young, described Head as one of the most serious cases on her docket and said he was "instrumental" in one of the most violent assaults on police on Jan. 6.She also said there remained an ongoing need to deter others from engaging in the same kind of political violence as Head.

"People need to understand they can't do this or anything like this again," she said. "They can't force their will on the American people when they've already spoken at the ballot box. That's the opposite of democracy. That's tyranny."

Jackson ordered Head to serve 90 months in prison (7.5 years) to be followed by 36 months of supervised release. He will receive credit for the approximately 18 months he's spent in pretrial detention since his arrest. Head will also have to pay $2,000 in restitution to the Architect of the Capitol and an additional amount of restitution to Fanone to be decided at a later date.

Jackson agreed to recommend Head be placed at the federal correctional facility in Butner, North Carolina, so he can be closer to his family in Tennesse. Wallace also asked for Head to be recommended for the Bureau of Prison's RDAP (Residential Drug Abuse Program) course, although as a convicted violent offender he would not be eligible for a sentence reduction upon completion. 

Head's sentence is one of the longest to date in a Capitol riot case, second only to former NYPD officer Thomas Webster, who was ordered to serve 10 years in prison for assaulting a DC Police officer on Jan. 6.

We're tracking all of the arrests, charges and investigations into the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Sign up for our Capitol Breach Newsletter here so that you never miss an update.

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