A Jan. 6, 2021 defendant who sprayed a chemical irritant at 5 police officers — and later bragged about it in a video interview — was sentenced Wednesday to 68 months in prison. It was one of the stiffest Jan. 6 sentences handed down to date. Daniel Caldwell, a 51-year-old Marine Corps veteran, delivered a tearful apology in court to the officers he sprayed, expressing remorse for his actions and pleading with U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly for mercy, Politico reports. Kollar-Kotelly repeatedly described Caldwell as an “insurrectionist” and noted that his deployment of chemical spray at officers created such an intense cloud that it nearly broke the depleted police line. Though no officers directly attributed their injuries to Caldwell’s actions, Kollar-Kotelly said his actions undoubtedly contributed to their physical and psychological trauma.
“You’re entitled to your political views but not to an insurrection,” the judge said. “You were an insurrectionist.”
Caldwell has remained in custody since Feb. 10, 2021 — 721 days, he noted — and was one of the earliest charged with a direct assault on police. Caldwell’s hearing was most notable for the extensive expression of remorse, delivered almost entirely through tears, to a nearly empty courtroom. "I must face my actions head on,” he said, before delivering a long apology to the officers he attacked. “I hope that you and our country never have to face another day like January 6th.” Caldwell said he spent the days immediately after the attack rationalizing what he did and looking for validation from family, friends and his attorney. He said he now looks back at his actions and “it literally floors me.” He described himself as “ashamed” and “embarrassed” about his conduct and described efforts to improve himself while in custody, reading self-help books and reflecting on how he became a catalyst of violence that day.