Peter Schwartz, a Kentucky man with a long criminal record, was sentenced Friday to a record-setting 14 years in prison for attacking police officers with pepper spray and a chair as he stormed the U.S. Capitol with his wife on Jan. 6, 2021. Schwartz’s sentence is the longest so far among hundreds of Capitol riot cases. The same judge, Amit Mehta, handed down the previous longest sentence — 10 years — to a retired New York Police Department officer who assaulted a police officer on the same day, reports the Associated Press. Prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of 24 years and 6 months for Schwartz, a welder. Mehta said Schwartz was a “soldier against democracy” who took part in “the kind of mayhem, chaos that had never been seen in the country’s history.”
Schwartz said, “I do sincerely regret the damage that Jan. 6 has caused to so many people and their lives." He was armed with a wooden tire knocker when he and then-wife Shelly Stallings, joined rioters in overwhelming a line of police officers on the Capitol’s Lower West Terrace, where he threw a folding chair at officers.“ By throwing that chair, Schwartz directly contributed to the fall of the police line that enabled rioters to flood forward and take over the entire terrace,” said prosecutor Jocelyn Bond. Schwartz, 49, armed himself with a police-issued “super soaker” canister of pepper spray and sprayed it at retreating officers. Before leaving, Schwartz joined a “heave ho” push against police. Stallings pleaded guilty to riot-related charges and was sentenced to two years of incarceration. Schwartz’s attorneys requested a sentence of four years and six months. They said his actions were motivated by a “misunderstanding” about the 2020 presidential election. Prosecutors said Schwartz bragged about his participation in the riot, shown no remorse and claimed that his prosecution was politically motivated. Schwartz was on probation during the Jan. 6 riot. His record includes a “jaw-dropping” 38 convictions since 1991, “several of which involved assaulting or threatening officers or other authority figures,” Bond said.