By Kevin Krause
A Garland commercial artist and the son of a police officer has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for assaulting police during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, court records show.
Robert Wayne Dennis, 63, a graphic and comic book artist, was found guilty of six counts by a Washington, D.C., judge at his January bench trial.
Dennis was captured on police body cameras fighting with police officers trying to control the violent mob near the stairs to the Upper West Terrace, according to court records. The FBI said he threw punches at and tackled one of the officers trying to defend the Capitol building.
His attorney, Allen Orenberg, could not be reached for comment but said in a recent court filing his client “has had ample time to reflect on his mistakes, and he is deeply regretful.”
Dennis was convicted of both felony and misdemeanor charges, including assaulting officers and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds.
U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg also ordered Dennis to pay $2,000 in restitution at Thursday’s sentencing hearing.
Dennis is one of more than two dozen North Texans charged in connection with the insurrection that resulted in five deaths and injured dozens of police officers.
Nationwide, more than 1,000 people have been charged for their part in the mob siege, which prompted the largest federal criminal case in U.S. history. More than 320 of them were charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement officers.
Authorities said Dennis approached a line of Metropolitan Police officers who struggled to keep the mob away from the Capitol. He pointed at them and “appeared to place his hand” on one of the officers, court records show.
When an officer pushed him away with a baton, Dennis grabbed the baton, the FBI said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nialah Ferrer said in a legal filing that after grabbing the officer’s baton, Dennis “took an officer to the ground” and knocked the baton out of his hands. While several officers tried to restrain him, Dennis “continued to roll and kick his legs towards officers,” she said.
Orenberg gave a different interpretation of what occurred during the scuffle. “No police officer was injured by Mr. Dennis,” he said in a pretrial court filing. “In contrast, Mr. Dennis was severely injured by police officers. He was unable to move any part of his body while numerous police officers continued to pin him to the ground and yelled in his ear.”
When FBI agents arrived at his home in July 2021 to question him, Dennis told them he drove to the Stop the Steal Rally in Washington, D.C., because “he was waiting for the ‘Kraken’ to be released,” Ferrer wrote.
Dennis also told the agents “God knew why he went to Washington, D.C., and that going was a righteous thing to do,” court records show.
Orenberg said in a sentencing memo that Dennis was born into a military family. After retiring from the Army, his father worked as a police officer for 17 years, the court filing said.
Dennis, an artist who collected comic books, ran a comic book shop in Missouri in the 1990s. He also performed art restoration work for Heritage Auctions in Dallas and curated the owner’s personal collection of art and collectibles, the defense filing said. Since then, he’s become a “highly regarded expert in the field of paper art restoration.”
Dennis had no prior criminal record.
Ferrer asked the judge to sentence him to more than five years in prison, saying his crimes were serious. “Dennis saw a line of police officers on January 6 trying to defend the Capitol and he chose to assault them,” she wrote in a sentencing memo.
He continued to fight even after officers pushed him back and surrounded him, Ferrer said.
“Dennis — unprovoked—grabbed an officer’s baton and wrestled another officer to the ground, creating a terribly dangerous situation for the victim,” she wrote in a sentencing memo. “More than half a dozen [Metropolitan Police] officers were required to restrain Dennis as he kicked, fought, and resisted arrest.”
This story, originally published in The Dallas Morning News, is reprinted as part of a collaborative partnership between The Dallas Morning News and Texas Metro News. The partnership seeks to boost coverage of Dallas’ communities of color, particularly in southern Dallas- at the bottom.