Watch CBS News

Jan. 6 rioter who used stun gun on D.C. cop Michael Fanone pleads guilty

Michael Fanone on "The Takeout"
Former D.C. police officer Michael Fanone on "The Takeout" — 10/28/2022 49:19

Washington — A California man accused of assaulting D.C. police officer Michael Fanone with an electric taser during the height of the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, pleaded guilty to four federal counts on Tuesday, including conspiracy and inflicting bodily harm on an officer with a dangerous weapon. 

Daniel "DJ" Rodriguez admitted he attacked Fanone with a taser and was part of the riotous mob that attempted to violently overcome law enforcement in support of Donald Trump, court records show. 

Prosecutors first charged Rodriguez in the months after the attack, alleging his actions not only affected law enforcement that day, but also prevented Congress from carrying out its duties to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election

Rodgriguez was later indicted with a codefendant, Edward Badalian, on charges amounting to conspiring to break the law. The government accused the pair of communicating with others in a messaging group called, "PATRIOTS 45 MAGA Gang," where users advocated for political violence to keep then-President Trump in office. Rodriguez admitted to communicating in the group in his plea.

"We need to violently remove traitors and if they are in key positions rapidly replace them with able-bodied Patriots," Badalian allegedly wrote in one December 2021 message. 

"Congress can hang. I'll do it. Please let us get these people dear God," Rodgriguez admitted writing days later, before he attended Trump's rally on the Ellipse. 

Badalian has pleaded not guilty and intends to take his case to trial. 

According to the indictment, the two California men used brought a taser, pepper spray, a baseball bat, gas masks, and walkie-talkies to Washington, D.C., ahead of the attack, traveling together to the nation's capital and conspiring to prevent Congress from carrying out its lawful duty. 

''There will be blood. Welcome to the revolution," Rodriguez allegedly wrote on the eve of the assault on the Capitol, according to the indictment. This statement was not part of the final plea agreement he signed on Tuesday.

On Jan. 6, 2021, the two men and an unidentified codefendant made their way to the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol building, prosecutors say, which saw some of the most violent attacks on law enforcement. Rodriguez joined the mob that aggressively pushed against officers to let the crowd in. 

It was during that time that prosecutors say Rodriguez was given another taser — not the one he had bought ahead of the riot. And as the mob ripped Fanone from the police line and violently dragged him away from safety, the government alleged that Rodriguez twice applied the taser to the back of the officer's neck. 

Rodriguez then made his way inside the Capitol building through broken glass and attempted to break a Senate window with a flagpole.

"Omg I did so much (f******.s***)," Rodriguez admitted to messaging later, "Tazzzzed the (f***) out of the blue." 

Fanone sustained multiple injuries throughout the attack and later retired from the police force after decades of work. Fanone has said that after the riot, he suffered a heart attack and a traumatic brain injury, which eventually cost him his career. He wrote a book about his Jan. 6 experience and testified before the Jan. 6 House select committee that investigated the riot. 

Since his arrest in March 2021, Rodgriguez's attorneys argued their client had intended to assert he was acting under the public authority of Trump himself, a rare legal defense in which would-be criminals claim they only acted in accordance with a public official's instructions. At least one high-profile defendant has attempted to explain away his actions during the riot in a similar manner and was convicted by a jury

Video of Rodgriguez's interview with FBI agents after the attack reviewed by CBS News showed the defendant describing how he tased Fanone. He failed to clarify where he got the taser and said he did not intend to hurt the officer. 

Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who accepted Rodgriguez's plea deal, will sentence him in May. The most severe obstruction charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but many of those who have pleaded guilty to the offense in the past have received lighter prison terms. 

D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone testifies before the House Jan. 6 committee during its first hearing on July 27, 2021. CHIP SOMODEVILLA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

"I remember screaming out that I have kids. I thought maybe I could appeal to somebody's humanity," Fanone told CBS News' "The Takeout" podcast last year. That tactic worked long enough for fellow officers to come to his aid.

Nearly 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 riot. More than 500 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors. Approximately 400 have been sentenced, with over half getting terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to 10 years.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.