WASHINGTON (AP) — A retired New York Police Division officer was sentenced on Thursday to a record-setting 10 years in jail for attacking the U.S. Capitol and utilizing a metallic flagpole to assault one of many cops making an attempt to carry off a mob of Donald Trump supporters.
Thomas Webster’s jail sentence is the longest to this point amongst roughly 250 individuals who have been punished for his or her conduct throughout the riot on Jan. 6, 2021. The earlier longest was shared by two different rioters, who had been sentenced individually to seven years and three months in jail.
Webster, a 20-year NYPD veteran, was the primary Capitol riot defendant to be tried on an assault cost and the primary to current a self-defense argument. A jury rejected Webster’s declare that he was defending himself when he tackled Metropolitan Police Division officer Noah Rathbun and grabbed his fuel masks exterior the Capitol on Jan. 6.
U.S. District Choose Amit Mehta sentenced Webster, 56, to 10 years in jail plus three years of supervised launch. He allowed Webster to report back to jail at a date to be decided as a substitute of instantly ordering him into custody.
“Mr. Webster, I don’t suppose you’re a nasty particular person,” the decide mentioned. “I believe you had been caught up in a second. However as you understand, even getting caught up in a second has penalties.”
Webster turned to apologize to Rathbun, who was within the courtroom however didn’t deal with the decide. Webster mentioned he needs he had by no means come to Washington, D.C.
“I want the horrible occasions of that day had by no means occurred,” he instructed the decide.
The decide mentioned Rathbun wasn’t Webster’s solely sufferer on Jan. 6.
“The opposite sufferer was democracy, and that’s not one thing that may be taken frivolously,” Mehta added.
Federal prosecutors had beneficial a jail sentence of 17 years and 6 months. The courtroom’s probation division had beneficial a 10-year jail sentence. Mehta wasn’t sure by the suggestions.
In a courtroom submitting, prosecutors accused Webster of “disgracing a democracy that he as soon as fought honorably to guard and serve.” Webster led the cost towards police barricades on the Capitol’s Decrease West Plaza, prosecutors mentioned. They in contrast the assault to a medieval battle, with rioters pelting officers with makeshift projectiles and interesting in hand-to-hand fight.
“Nothing can clarify or justify Mr. Webster’s rage. Nothing can clarify or justify his violence,” Assistant U.S. Lawyer Hava Mirell mentioned Thursday.
Protection lawyer James Monroe mentioned in a courtroom submitting that the mob was “guided by unscrupulous politicians” and others selling the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from the Republican incumbent. He questioned why prosecutors argued that Webster didn’t deserve leniency for his 25 years of service to his nation and New York Metropolis.
“That isn’t how we measure justice. That’s revenge,” Monroe mentioned.
In Might, jurors deliberated for lower than three hours earlier than they convicted Webster of all six counts in his indictment, together with a cost that he assaulted Rathbun with a harmful weapon, the flagpole.
Additionally Thursday, a New Jersey man pleaded responsible to utilizing pepper spray on cops, together with one who later died. Officer Brian Sicknick suffered a stroke the day after the riot and died of pure causes. He and different officers had been standing guard behind metallic bicycle racks because the mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.
Julian Khater, 33, pleaded responsible to 2 counts of assaulting or impeding officers with a harmful weapon. He may resist 20 years in jail, although will seemingly face a sentence starting from about 6 1/2 to eight years at a listening to set for December.
The case towards Khater and a second man have been among the many extra notable introduced by the Justice Division. George Pierre Tanios introduced the pepper spray in a backpack. Tanios beforehand pleaded responsible and can be set to be sentenced in December.
Webster had testified at trial that he was making an attempt to guard himself from a “rogue cop” who punched him within the face. He additionally accused Rathbun of instigating the confrontation.
Rathbun testified that he didn’t punch or choose a struggle with Webster. Rathbun mentioned he was making an attempt to maneuver Webster again from a safety perimeter that he and different officers had been struggling to keep up.
Rathbun’s physique digicam captured Webster shouting profanities and insults earlier than they made any bodily contact. The video exhibits that Webster slammed one of many bike racks at Rathbun earlier than the officer reached out with an open left hand and struck the correct facet of Webster’s face.
After Rathbun struck his face, Webster swung a metallic flag pole on the officer in a downward chopping movement, putting a motorcycle rack. Rathbun grabbed the damaged pole from Webster, who charged on the officer, tackled him to the bottom and grabbed his fuel masks, choking him by the chin strap.
Webster drove alone to Washington, D.C., from his residence close to Goshen, New York, on the eve of the Jan. 6 “Cease the Steal” rally, the place Trump addressed 1000’s of supporters. Webster was sporting a bulletproof vest and carrying a Marine Corps flag on a metallic pole when he joined the mob that stormed the Capitol.
Webster mentioned he went to the Capitol to “petition” lawmakers to “relook” on the outcomes of the 2020 presidential election. However he testified that he didn’t intend to intrude with Congress’ joint session to certify President Joe Biden ’s victory.
Webster retired from the NYPD in 2011 after 20 years of service, which included a stint on then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s personal safety element. He served within the U.S. Marine Corps from 1985 to 1989 earlier than becoming a member of the NYPD in 1991.
Related Press author Lindsay Whitehurst contributed to this report.