Politics - News Analysis

Ex-CEO and Capitol Rioter Who Called Siege the ‘Worst Decision of His Life’ is Going to Prison

One by one, the insurrectionists fail in court.

Bradley Rukstales, a 53-year-old self-described “peaceful and law-abiding citizen” who was one of the few arrested on the actual day of the riot at the Capitol, has been sentenced to 30 days in prison.

Rukstales gave more than $25,000 to Trump and other Republicans during the 2020 election season, according to the Associated Press.

Despite describing himself as peaceful and condemning in court the “destruction that took place in Washington” that day, prosecutors ultimately succeeded in convincing Judge Carl Nichols of Rukstales guilt when they showed video footage of him throwing a chair in the direction of Capitol police.

A statement from the prosecution read:

As Rukstales descended the stairwell to the CVC ― less than 30 seconds after besieged officers were forced to hastily retreat down it ― chairs that had been thrown at those officers lay strewn about the floor. There were signs of a riot everywhere, and he willingly joined it. He picked up one of the chairs and belligerently hurled it in the direction of where the officers had fallen back.

The lenient sentence of just a month of incarceration could stem from the fact that none of the officers were actually near enough to hit and nothing was damaged by Rukstales’ action.

Rukstales from pretty apologetic from the get go.

In a written statement that was published by a CBS affiliate just the day after the siege, Rukstales apologized for taking part in the riot after he “followed hundreds inside.”

“My decision to enter the Capitol was wrong, and I am deeply regretful to have done so,” he wrote. “Without qualification and as a peaceful and law-abiding citizen, I condemn the destruction that took place in Washington.”

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He added:

“It was the single worst personal decision of my life; I have no excuse for my actions and wish that I could take them back.”

But he kept his sentiments short when he was approached at home by a reporter for the CBS affiliate. He admitted to joining the riot and confirmed he entered the Capitol but closed the door when the reporter asked him why he decided to do that.

“I had nothing to do with charging anybody or anything like that,” he said during the interview. “I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. And I regret my part in that.”

But even his own testimony shows that he was there to protest the legal election and certification of Joe Biden as President:

When I learned about the rally on January 6, it seemed to me that momentum was growing, and that the event would be an important constitutional moment in our republic’s history. That is why I came to Washington, D.C. on that day, and brought my family.

In the end, it took three officers to finally arrest the man “during a volatile point in the overall siege on the Capitol” wrote prosecutors.

Ironically, Rukstales’ lawyers tried to differentiate their client from other high-profile defendants like Jenna Ryan, who kept protesting their innocence and making public statements after their arrests:

The Court sentencing Ms. Ryan understandably concluded that for her, incarceration was a necessary deterrent, unlike Mr. Rukstales, who has consistently and publicly expressed remorse for his participation.

That argument didn’t quite get Rukstales out of serving any jail time, but it did get him a little lighter sentence.

Andrew Simpson
meet the author

Andrew is a dark blue speck in deep red Southwestern Arizona, writing with the conviction of 17 years at the keyboard and too much politics to even stand. When not furiously stabbing the keys on breaking news stories, he writes poetry, prose, essays, haiku, lectures, stories for grief therapy, wedding ceremonies, detailed instructions on making doughnuts from canned biscuit dough (more sugar than cinnamon — duh), and equations to determine the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow. A wife, three kids, and a grandson round out the story, and in his spare time, Andrew loves to think about how nice it would be to have spare time.

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