The Proud Boy who smashed through a window to the US Capitol with a police riot shield on January 6, 2021, allowing the first wave of rioters to storm the building as members of Congress were being evacuated was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison.
Images of Dominic Pezzola, nicknamed “Spazzolini,” using the police riot shield to first breach the Capitol building quickly became a symbol of the violence that day.
“The reality is you were the one who did it,” District Judge Timothy Kelly said during the hearing Friday. “You were the one who smashed that window in and let people begin to stream into the Capitol building and threaten the lives of our lawmakers. It is not something I would have ever dreamed I’d see in our country.”
“You were really, in some ways, the tip of the spear,” the judge said.
Before leaving the courtroom, Pezzola, with a raised fist, shouted, “Trump won!” just minutes after Kelly – who had already left the courtroom – said he hoped Pezzola had turned a corner.
Pezzola was the only one of the five Proud Boys defendants not convicted of seditious conspiracy. Pezzola joined the Proud Boys shortly before January 6, according to evidence shown at trial, and was praised by the organization’s leadership for his violent actions at a separate rally weeks before the Capitol riot.
The New York native was convicted of multiple other charges including assaulting or resisting a police officer, robbery of a police shield, destruction of government property and obstructing an official proceeding.
Two of Pezzola’s codefendants, Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl, were sentenced Thursday to 17 and 15 years in prison respectively.
In the at times rumbustious trial which spanned several months, prosecutors argued that Pezzola’s co-defendants, leaders of the Proud Boys, pushed lower-level members like Pezzola to be on the front lines of the violence at the Capitol.
In a written statement read aloud by prosecutors earlier this week, former Capitol police officer Mark Ode, who was assaulted by Pezzola, recounted being attacked by the mob and feeling like his life was leaving his body.
Ode wrote that he was haunted by the memory of being “pinned down by multiple assailants, being pinned down by all of their weight, while simultaneously being choked by the chinstrap of my helmet.”
“[I] felt my life fleeing my body,” Ode wrote, adding that he had “the most vivid visual of my own funeral.”
During Friday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutor Erik Kenerson said that “many Americans will approach the ballot box in 2024 with trepidation” and “will go to bed on January 5, 2025 afraid of what might happen the next day. Mark Ode certainly will.”
Pezzola, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, addressed the court during Friday’s hearing, while his wife, mother, daughter and a friend who served with him in the military sat in the courtroom.
“I need to extend my sincere apology to Officer Ode,” Pezzola said, “and if he were here, I would look him in the eyes an apologize for all the grief I caused him.” Pezzola also apologized to his wife and children and the country, adding that “the events of J6 have crumbled the reputation of the nation I served in the Marine corps.”
His wife, Lisa, told Kelly how her daughters have suffered through depression and been bullied at school since their father was arrested, saying that “that is very hard as a mother — to not be able to protect them for the outside world.”
“In no way am I making excuses for Dominic’s actions that day. As I said on the stand, he was a f**king idiot,” she said through tears.
Pezzola’s youngest daughter, Angelina, also spoke to the judge, saying that she was “everything good that my father has done” and that it’s because of him she’s a successful college student.
“I hope you give him some mercy so he can see me graduate college, so he can see me get my first home, my first job,” she said as her father sobbed at the defense table.
“All I crave is a hug from my father.”
This story has been updated with additional details.