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Former Boston cop gets 20 months for role in failed Jan. 6 putsch; lawyer calls him a good man whose PTSD, brain injuries made him susceptible to Trump propaganda

Fisher walking through the Capitol

Fisher ambles through the Capitol on Jan. 6, moments before attacking a Capitol cop.

A federal judge on Friday sentenced former BPD K9 officer Joseph Robert Fisher to 20 months in prison and two years of probation both for embedding himself in the screaming mob that failed to stop American democracy at the Capitol on Jan. 6 in general and ramming a chair into a Capitol police officer then pushing him to the ground in particular.

Fisher's attorney had asked for a sentence of six months in prison and six months on probation for his guilty plea to two counts of civil disorder and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers.

In a sentencing memorandum to DC District Court Judge Randolph Moss, Fisher's attorney, Joshua Hanye, argued that years of suffering from PTSD suffered while a Boston cop as well as brain injuries dating to his childhood and that the Trump propaganda that Fisher, now 52, consumed endlessly starting in 2015 as he sat at home in Plymouth watching TV news because of a foot injury all combined to get Fisher swept up in an incident he now intensely regrets.

"Apart from his actions on a single day, Joseph Fisher has been a good man," Hanye wrote, arguing that his exemplary work as a Boston officer - and his lack of prior convictions - all argue for leniency:

In his 18 years with the Boston Police Department, Joseph Fisher regularly displayed both courage and compassion. In 2000 an offender in a stolen car backed into a fellow officer to avoid apprehension, and then sped directly towards him and another officer, forcing him to fire. In 2002, he responded to a young woman experiencing a mental health crisis who was attempting to commit suicide by breaking a bottle and ingesting the glass. Despite the presence of a hostile crowd, Mr. Fisher restrained the woman just long enough for her to be placed in an ambulance to be transported for appropriate care.

Mr. Fisher also went above and beyond the already high expectations of his job. In 2011 he was approached by visitors from Montreal who had arrived late at night and were unable to find a place to stay. Upon hearing that they intended to sleep in their car, Officer Fisher instead brought them to the station for food and lodging, a story which was noteworthy enough to be retold in the Boston Globe.

Of course Officer Fisher’s most difficult and proud moments came in 2013 in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. Like so many other officers on the force, he was immediately called into action. As a member of the K-9 unit, he was responsible for searching both the scene of the bombing and also the scene where the suspects were confronted and arrested several days later.

In between those events, Officer Fisher and his colleagues barely stopped working. Most residents of the city and surrounding areas were told to shelter- in-place, while Officer Fisher and other first responders ran towards the emergency, rather than away from it. His response was specifically commended by his supervisor. The city will forever remain in his debt.

At the same time, Hanye continued, Fisher developed PTSD from the 2000 gunfire incident and throughout his life, starting as a teen, he suffered a series of head injuries, from playing hockey as a child and at the police academy and being struck in the head with a tire in high school, all of which combined to create mental problems that led him to thoughts of suicide, panic attacks and loss of impulse control. Then, in 2015, the foot injury he suffered after falling off a ladder, which forced him to retire from the police with a disability led him to "watching the news all day long and becoming obsessed with politics," in particular, the politics of Donald Trump.

Starting with a love of country, fed a steady diet of misinformation, and suffering from serious anxiety and poor impulse control, Joseph Fisher traveled to the District to attend then-President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, 2012 [sic].

Hanye said that Fisher's actions on Jan. 6 also argue for leniency, even as he admits responsibility for them. Fisher didn't attack the Capitol cop with the chair, he merely slid it towards him, he wrote. A man intent on doing harm to the cop would have lifted the chair and swung it at him, Hanye wrote, continuing that means the chair was not a "dangerous weapon."

Recognizing the seriousness of what he had done, he immediately left the building and sat down. While he admittedly appeared energized in Government’s Exhibit 2, which shows him prior to his entry, he is disheveled and worn out in Government's Exhibit 1, which shows him after his exit. He clearly did not "enjoy" his experience inside. At that moment he was struggling to appreciate the severity of what he had done. That appreciation obviously came too late. Yet the appreciation immediately after an unplanned assault is consistent with the anxiety and poor impulse control that he suffers as a result of PTSD and head injuries. Those conditions are not excuses and Mr. Fisher acknowledges there are consequences to his behavior. The defense simply offers that the nature and circumstances of the offense are consistent with the history and characteristics of Mr. Fisher such that both factors support the requested downward variance [in his sentencing].

Assistant US Attorney Shalin Nohria and the judge, however, did not buy these arguments.

In his sentencing memorandum, Nohria called for a sentence of 46 months, nearly four years. He started with his recitation of what happened in the Capitol on Jan. 6, starting shortly after 2:35 p.m.:

At that time, another rioter sprayed a chemical irritant at a Capitol Police officer. The officer chased the rioter through a hallway in an attempt to apprehend him. Fisher grabbed a chair, watched and waited as the rioter and officer approached his position, and rammed the chair into the officer. Fisher then grabbed the officer and pushed him as another rioter shoved the officer from behind. The fight ended with Fisher on the ground and the other rioter successfully escaped.

And the chair most definitely fit the legal definition of a "dangerous weapon," Nohria continued:

Fisher rammed a chair into the USCP officer during a full-blown riot while the officer was running to arrest another rioter. Fisher's intent was to strike the Capitol Police Officer hard enough with a chair to disrupt the officer's pursuit of the rioter. This Court should readily find, by a preponderance, that Fisher intended to cause injury to the officer given the officer's swift pursuit of the rioter, the hard and multiple joints on the chair, and Fisher's ramming of the officer with the chair while he was running.

Plus, the now remorseful Fisher didn't stop there - he grabbed the cop and tossed him to the floor - Nohria wrote.

And, he continued, forget about Fisher's laudatory conduct while a Boston police officer, if anything, that should make his actions on Jan. 6 even worse:

As a police officer, Fisher took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States. He pledged his loyalty to the country and to uphold its laws. Yet, on January 6, 2021, he participated actively in a violent riot at the United States Capitol, the purpose of which was to disrupt and thwart the peaceful transition of power, a key feature of our constitutional democracy.

As a former police officer, Fisher should have recognized the great risk of serious injury or worse that the officers faced in battling with angry mob that substantially outnumbered them. But, when the time came, Fisher chose violent rioters over his fellow officers – he attacked Officer J.G. and intentionally prevented him from fulfilling his sacred mission – the protection of the U.S. Capitol and its staff.

While Fisher's prior law enforcement service is laudable, it renders his conduct on January 6, and his disregard for the struggling law enforcement officers there, all the more troubling.

And so:

Fisher's felonious conduct on January 6, 2021 was part of a massive riot that almost succeeded in preventing the certification vote from being carried out, frustrating the peaceful transition of Presidential power, and throwing the United States into a Constitutional crisis. Fisher entered the Capitol Building, observed the various acts of violence occurring around him, and then engaged in a cowardly assault against a law enforcement officer who was attempting to arrest another violent rioter. The nature and circumstances of Fisher's offenses were of the utmost seriousness, and fully support the government's recommended sentence of 46 months' incarceration.



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threw all MAGAs under the bus by saying his brain disorder made him susceptible to Trump's propaganda.
That's beautiful in and of itself.
Trump's propaganda and that a normal person wouldn't fall for it.


I think old-man Biden's favorite saying rings true here. What a bunch of malarkey!




The guy's heroic and honorable conduct proves that a man who does good can also do evil.

Claiming PTSD should throw the lawyer into the channel for a quick dunk. Just enough to get the point across: Choosing to do evil has nothing to do with PTSD. The ex-cop made a conscious choice to be where the action of giving a wanna-be president for life the opportunity to be a modern day Stalin.

Who seriously thinks that Trump as dictator would not give to Evangelicals and Fundamentalists the key to purifying the nation from anyone who does not walk goose step under a flag of their Christian nationalism?


But not good and evil at the same time.

Good when he had a place and a role. Then later, when he was sidelined by an injury and left alone with his resentments and Fox News to nurse them....Evil.


All that valor and heroism wasted in trying to raise a false god. Throw the book at him. There's no excuse for stupid.


Great that these terrorists are finally faxing jail time, but since Trump has promised to free them all and he will mos likely win, he will only serve 6 months or so if he starts serving his sentence soon. If he’s allowed to delay starting, he may not serve much if any time.


... How many of these insurrectionists will wind up getting medals (of some sort) if Trump is re-elected? Surely many will get some of those federal jobs that will open up when Trump ends civil service protection for thousand of civil service positions.


and he will mos likely win

He just might, if certain people don't get their inert asses off the sidelines.