A retired New York Police Department employee was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday for assaulting one of the officers who stormed the Capitol and used a metal flag to control supporters of Donald Trump.
Thomas Webster’s prison sentence is the longest ever given to punish nearly 250 people for their actions during the January 6, 2021 riots. Earlier, the longest sentence was shared with two other dacoits, who each received a sentence of seven years and three months. In jail.
Webster, a 20-year NYPD veteran, was the first Capitol riot defendant tried for assault and the first to present a claim of self-defense. A jury rejected Webster’s claim that he was defending himself when he grabbed a gas mask against Metropolitan Police Department officer Noah Rathbone outside the Capitol on January 6.
US District Judge Amit Mehta sentenced Webster, 56, to 10 years in prison and three years of supervised release. He allowed Webster to report to jail on a scheduled date instead of ordering him to be taken into custody immediately.
The judge said, “Mr. Webster, I don’t think you’re a bad person. I think you’re caught in the moment. But as you know, even being caught in the moment has consequences.”
Webster turned to apologize to Rathbun, who was present in the courtroom but did not address the judge. Webster said he wished he could move to Washington, D.C.
“I hope the terrible events of the day never happen,” he told the judge.
The judge noted that Rathbun was not Webster’s only victim on 6 January.
“Another victim has been democracy, and it should not be taken lightly,” Mehta said.
Federal prosecutors sentenced him to 17 years and 6 months in prison. The court’s probation department asked for 10 years in prison. Mehta was not bound by the recommendations.
In a court filing, prosecutors accused Webster of “insulting the democracy he once honorably fought to protect and serve”. Prosecutors said Webster led the charge against a police barricade in the Capitol’s Lower West Plaza. He compared the attack to a medieval battle in which the mob attacked the officers with improvised projectiles and engaged in hand-to-hand combat.
“Nothing can explain or justify Mr. Webster’s anger. No one can explain or justify their violence. Assistant US Attorney Hava Mirrell said on Thursday.
Attorney James Monroe said in a court filing that the rioters were “directed by unscrupulous politicians” and that others promoted the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from the Republican incumbent. He questioned why prosecutors insisted that Webster did not deserve leniency for his 25 years of service to his country and New York City.
“That’s not how we measure justice. That’s revenge. Monroe said.
In May, jurors deliberated for less than three hours before convicting Webster on all six charges in Webster’s indictment, including assault with a dangerous weapon at Larsburn.
Also on Thursday, a New Jersey man pleaded guilty to using pepper spray on an officer, in which one later died. Officer Brian Sicknick suffered a stroke the day after the riot and died of natural causes. He and other officers stood guard behind a metal bicycle rack as a crowd of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.
Julian Khater, 33, pleaded guilty to two counts of assaulting or obstructing a police officer with a dangerous weapon. He faces up to 20 years in prison, but is likely to receive a sentence of around six-and-a-half to eight years at a hearing in December.
The case against Khattar and another person is one of the most high-profile cases ever filed by the Justice Department. George Pierre Tanios came with pepper spray in his bag. Tanios has previously pleaded guilty and is due to be sentenced in December.
Webster testified at the trial that he was trying to defend himself from “rogue cops” who punched him in the face. He also accused Rathbun of instigating the confrontation.
Rathbun testified that he neither punched nor fought with Webster. Rathbun said he was trying to move Webster back from the security perimeter, which he and other officers are struggling to maintain.
Rathbun’s body camera caught Webster yelling and insulting him before making physical contact. Video shows Webster hit one of the bike racks at Rathbun before the officer reached out with his left hand and hit Webster on the right side of his face.
After Rathbun punched him in the face, Webster swung the metal flag down on the officer and hit the bike rack. Rathbun attacked the police, grabbed Webster’s broken pole, wrestled him to the ground, grabbed his gas mask, and suffocated him with a chin strap.