Kingston man gets 7 years for role in Capitol riot

A Kingston man was sentenced to over seven years in prison April 3 after he was previously convicted of assaulting law enforcement and other felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol.

His actions and those of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the 2020 presidential election between President Biden and former President Trump.

Taylor James Johnatakis, 40, was sentenced to 87 months in prison and $2,000 in fines by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth.

On Nov. 21, 2023, a federal jury in the District of Columbia found Johnatakis guilty of seven charges, including three felonies. Johnatakis was convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding, civil disorder, and assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release states.

In addition to the felonies, Johnatakis was convicted of four misdemeanor charges regarding restricted buildings and grounds, including entering and remaining, disorderly and disruptive conduct, engaging in physical violence, and engaging in an act of physical violence in the grounds of any of the Capitol buildings.

Court documents say prior to Jan. 6, 2021, Johnatakis posted numerous messages to social media revealing his intent to obstruct the election certification. On Jan. 5, 2021, Johnatakis posted: “…and that’s why I am going to DC, to CHANGE the course of HISTORY #stopthesteal.” That same day, he posted: “[B]urn the city down. What the British did to DC will be nothing…”

Johnatakis traveled to D.C. and attended the “Stop the Steal” rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021. After the rally, Johnatakis marched to the Capitol and posted a video to social media where he said, in part, “Anyways, we’re walking over to the Capitol right now, and I don’t know, maybe we’ll break down the doors.” He then made his way onto the restricted Capitol grounds that were closed to the public. By approximately 2:30 p.m., he had made his way through the crowd on the West Front, where the Inaugural stage was under construction. By then, rioters had flooded the area and were actively overpowering the police line, per the release.

Johnatakis made his way to the front of the mob while yelling into a megaphone. As the crowd grew and tension rose, police were overwhelmed by rioters and forced to retreat up the southwest stairs under the scaffolding of the inaugural stage. Court documents say that Johnatakis led the charge.

Police retreated and formed another line to protect the Capitol and members of Congress inside. Johnatakis was among the first rioters to march up the stairs to confront them.

Johnatakis then organized rioters to assault police at the top of the staircase. Specifically, using his megaphone, Johnatakis yelled at rioters to “pack it in! pack it in!” Johnatakis then instructed the crowd to push the bike racks “one foot” at a time and counted, “one, two, three, GO!”

Johnatakis and his fellow rioters grabbed the bike racks in and pushed them forcibly into the line of police. Numerous officers ran to reinforce the line. At least one officer was injured, the release states.

The FBI arrested Johnatakis Feb. 11, 2021, in Washington state.