A man who beat a police officer with a flagpole and was among the most violent clashes outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was ordered to prison for 52 months on Monday. Peter Stager, 44, was sentenced to prison for four years and four months for participating in a scrum of rioters on the steps of the Capitol, where he used the pole of an American flag to beat a fallen officer who was pulled into the crowd, face down and defenseless, Courthouse News reports. Stager, who pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer with a dangerous weapon in February, took responsibility for his actions and expressed hope that no similar event would happen again in a statement before U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras, a Barack Obama appointee, passed down his ruling.
“I hope the best for this country, I hope we can heal and stop being so divisive,” Stager said. “I hope we stop listening to bad leaders with bad ideas.” According to the Justice Department’s sentencing memo, soon after Stager struck the fallen officer three times, he was recorded calling lawmakers — who at that time were sheltering inside the Capitol — “treasonous traitors” and blaming the officers for protecting them.
“Death is the only remedy for what’s in that building,” Stager said in a video from the insurrection. “Every single one of those Capitol law enforcement officers, death is the remedy, that is the only remedy that they get.”
Justice Department attorney Benet Kearney keyed in on those statements, saying that while he clearly wasn’t successful, Stager had dangerous and deadly intent as he forced his way toward the Capitol. During Monday’s hearing, she played videos taken on Jan. 6 of the violence outside the Lower West Terrace and show Stager watching other rioters attacking police, then deciding to join, “adding his rage, adding his weapon and adding his force to the attack,” Kearney said. According to the initial complaint against Stager, the Metropolitan Police Officer who was dragged into the crowd, identified only by his initials B.M., received deep bruises and cuts from the attack.