Peter Stager, a 44-year-old truck driver from Conway, Ark., was sentenced to 52 months in federal prison on Monday. He was convicted of assaulting a police officer with a flagpole during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. This assault resulted in some of the most shocking images from that day’s events. In a video, Stager can be seen brutally beating Officer Blake Miller, who was defenseless on the ground amidst a mob of rioters.
Stager was among nine men charged with assaulting two capital police Officers, Andrew Wayte, Carter Moore, and Officer Miller. The assault occurred over 90 seconds outside a Lower West Terrace tunnel of the Capitol. The violence was likened to medieval hand-to-hand combat by officers who endured it.
After the assault, Stager was caught on video declaring his disdain for everyone in the Capitol, calling them “treasonous traitors” and suggesting death as the only solution. He extended this sentiment towards the Capitol law enforcement officers as well.
In their pre-sentencing documents submitted to Federal District Court in Washington, Stager’s attorneys argued that their client had a troubled upbringing. They detailed how Stager was homeless during his early years, had to steal food for survival, and ended up in foster care following abandonment by his mother at age six.
They explained that Stager was in Washington on Jan. 6 due to a schedule mix-up with his trucking company’s dispatch service. Instead of driving back to Arkansas with an empty truck, which would have been costly, Stager attended then-President Donald Trump’s rally on the morning of Jan. 6.
Stager was reportedly emotionally overwhelmed as the situation escalated from the rally to the Capitol, and violence ensued. In this turmoil, he picked up a flagpole and attacked Officer Miller. Stager’s lawyers noted this as a decision their client will forever regret.
Stager expressed remorse for his actions in a letter submitted with his lawyer’s filing, insisting he harbored no ill will towards law enforcement.
In this case, three co-defendants have also been sentenced on assault charges, Logan Barnhart, Justin Jersey, and Mason Courson. Their prison terms ranged from three to five years, considered a moderate sentence for attacks on police officers.