An Arkansas man famously photographed with his feet on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced to 54 months in prison on May 24 in Washington.
Richard “Bigo” Barnett, 62, of Gravette, Arkansas, was also sentenced to 36 months of supervised release and fined $2,000 by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper.
The sentence was almost three years shy of the 87 months sought by federal prosecutors but far more than the time served sought by the defense.
Barnett was found guilty after less than two hours of jury deliberation on Jan. 23 on four felony and four misdemeanor charges stemming from his time at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Barnett was convicted of civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, entering and remaining in certain rooms in the Capitol Building, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, and theft of government property.
The dangerous weapon charge came from Barnett carrying with him a 950,000-volt “Hike ’n Strike” walking stick that doubles as a flashlight and stun device. He said there were no batteries in the device, and thus the stun function wasn’t operable on Jan. 6, 2021.
Barnett sat at a desk belonging to an assistant to Pelosi (D-Calif.). A wire service photographer asked him to pose with his feet on the desk, then snapped the photo that became one of the enduring images of Jan. 6.
According to trial testimony, Barnett entered the Capitol at 2:43 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, as a crowd surged through the giant Columbus Doors on the east side of the building.
Barnett testified that he had no intention of going inside the Capitol but was pushed in by crowd momentum. Both houses of Congress had stopped work by this time as members were being moved to safety.
On his way out of the Capitol, Barnett realized he had left his U.S. flag in Pelosi’s office and got into a verbal confrontation with a Metropolitan Police Department officer when he wanted to retrieve it.
Bluster or Threats?
His language ranged from bargaining with the officer to foul-mouthed bluster. Prosecutors said Barnett was threatening the officer, while the defense said it was a short-lived “temper tantrum” in which he was “behaving like an idiot, like a fool.”
Barnett took the stand in his own defense on the final day of testimony. He was pressed repeatedly during cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gordon, who suggested he wasn’t being truthful in his answers. Barnett’s retort was spirited.
“You want to keep pressing me and break me down,” Barnett said. “I ain’t breaking down. I stand by what I say, sir.
“I’ve made mistakes. I have made mistakes. And I regret those mistakes. I’ve gotten confused in my testimony. I went through hell up there. The officers went through hell up there. It was a horrible, horrible day.”
Defense attorney Joseph D. McBride strafed prosecutors for over-charging Barnett and blowing his Jan. 6 behavior out of proportion.
“They have literally made a federal case out of an act of stupidity that could have been dispensed with a ticket and a fine,” McBride told the jury during closing arguments.
McBride told the jury the prosecution of his client was over the top.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this is the government that our forefathers warned us about,” he said.