WASHINGTON — A Donald Trump supporter who “blind-side tackled” a U.S. Capitol Police officer from behind on Jan. 6 and flipped him over a ledge was sentenced to more than six years in prison Tuesday.
Ralph Celentano, a New York man who thought Trump was the greatest president in American history, was sentenced to 78 months in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly said that Celentano’s conduct was “disgraceful” and that there was no excuse for it, calling the attack on the officer “a truly cowardly and despicable thing to do.”
Celentano was arrested in 2022 and convicted at trial last year. Court evidence shows that he believed Trump’s lies about the 2020 election, writing on social media that “crooked poll workers need to be hauled before judges” before heading to the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on Jan. 6, and then heading to the Capitol.
“While admittedly ‘amped up’ from the rally, Celentano marched over a mile to the Capitol Building gripping his Trump flag, folding chairs strapped to his backpack, which bore a patch that read, ‘Kill Them All and Let God Sort it Out,’” prosecutors wrote.
At Peace Circle, Celentano said in a video that rioters should “occupy the Capitol, it’s our building,” and then joined the mob confronting officers, calling them “pathetic pieces of s—,” prosecutors said. Celentano then pushed officers and used their riot shields against them.
Eventually, Celentano shoved U.S. Capitol Police Officer Kenrick Ellis over a banister. Ellis, who served in the military in Iraq, testified that he thought during the fighting outside the Capitol that was how it “was going to end” for him and that he feared he would never see his 5-year-old son again.
Ellis spoke during the sentencing hearing, saying that Celentano “football tackled” him from behind and that he had no opportunity to defend himself.
“I believed that was how my life was going to end that day,” Ellis said.
“You’re not a patriot,” Ellis told Celentano. “You’re a coward.”
Celentano offered a brief apology to Ellis.
“I’m terribly sorry,” he said. “Terrible day.”
After the riot, Celentano pushed back against conspiracy theories about the attack, saying Trump supporters were, in fact, responsible.
“Nope antifa and Blm didnt take the Capitol we the people did,” Celentano wrote on the defunct right-wing social media platform Parler.
About 1,250 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack, including several who were arrested this week. About 900 people have been convicted. Online sleuths had identified hundreds of additional rioters who have not yet been arrested by the FBI.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com