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Texas militia member sentenced to nearly 5 years in prison for attacking police during Capitol riot

FILE - Rioters loyal to President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A Texas militia member was sentenced Friday to nearly five years in prison for attacking police officers at the U.S. Capitol, seriously injuring one of them during a mob's attack on Jan. 6, 2021.

U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss sentenced Donald Hazard to four years and nine months in prison followed by three months of supervised release for his role in the riot at the Capitol, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office for the District of Columbia.

The sentence matched what federal prosecutors had recommended for Hazard, who pleaded guilty to an assault charge in February.

Hazard, 44, of Hurst, Texas, was a member of a militia called the Patriot Boys of North Texas. Lucas Denney, the group's self-proclaimed president, appointed Hazard as its sergeant-at-arms. Denney also encouraged Hazard to stock up on weapons and protective gear and recruit others to join them in Washington, D.C., prosecutors said.

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Hazard was “eager for violence” on Jan. 6, wearing a tactical vest and a helmet adorned with the image of the Confederate battle flag, Justice Department prosecutor Benet Kearney wrote in a court filing.

After marching to the Capitol, Hazard clashed with officers who were trying to hold off the mob near scaffolding on the northwest side of the building. Hazard grabbed a Capitol police officer and pulled him down a set of concrete steps, knocking him unconscious. That officer was treated for a concussion and foot injuries that required multiple surgeries, according to prosecutors.

Hazard also fell on another Capitol police officer whose head hit the concrete. Hazard and Denney, both wielding what appeared to be canisters of pepper spray, confronted other officers on the west side of the Capitol.

Hazard briefly entered the Capitol before police pushed him and other rioters out of the building.

“When he reached the exterior steps, Hazard raised his arms in a gesture of victory,” Kearney wrote.

In the days after Jan. 6, Hazard bragged on Facebook about storming the Capitol and fighting with police.

“The only regret Hazard expressed was that he no longer had the photographs and videos he took that day,” Kearney wrote.

Defense attorney Ubong Akpan said Hazard had no plan to attack officers.

“His actions were more of a reaction to what he saw that day, as opposed to a plan to attack law enforcement, a group he thought he was similarly situated with,” Akpan wrote in a court filing.

Video shows that Hazard didn't forcibly assault the officers in the scaffolding, his lawyer argued.

“His conduct was more consistent with impeding officers and his impeding led to bodily injuries of the officers,” Akpan wrote.

Hazard was charged with Denney, who pleaded guilty to an assault charge and was sentenced last September to four years and four months in prison.

More than 100 police officers were injured at the Capitol on Jan. 6, as rioters disrupted Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's 2020 electoral victory over Republican incumbent Donald Trump.

Over 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riot. Approximately 500 of them have been sentenced, with more than half receiving terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to over 14 years.