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 steel flagpole to assault one of many cops attempting to carry off a mob of Donald Trump supporters.
Thomas Webster’s jail sentence is the longest up to now amongst roughly 250 individuals who have been punished for his or her conduct in the course of the riot on Jan. 6, 2021. The earlier longest was shared by two other rioters, who have 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 gasoline masks outdoors 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 an alternative of instantly ordering him into custody.
“Mr. Webster, I don’t suppose you’re a foul individual,” the choose stated. “I believe you have been caught up in a second. However as , even getting caught up in a second has penalties.”
Webster turned to apologize to Rathbun, who was within the courtroom however didn’t tackle the choose. Webster stated 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 advised the choose.
The choose stated 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 calmly,” Mehta added.
Federal prosecutors had beneficial a jail sentence of 17 years and 6 months. The court docket’s probation division had beneficial a 10-year jail sentence. Mehta wasn’t certain by the suggestions.
In a court docket 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 stated. They in contrast the assault to a medieval battle, with rioters pelting officers with makeshift projectiles and fascinating in hand-to-hand fight.
“Nothing can clarify or justify Mr. Webster’s rage. Nothing can clarify or justify his violence,” Assistant U.S. Legal professional Hava Mirell stated Thursday.
Protection lawyer James Monroe stated in a court docket submitting that the mob was “guided by unscrupulous politicians” and others promoting 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 stated.
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 have been standing guard behind steel 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 might withstand 20 years in jail, although will doubtless 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 attempting 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 decide a struggle with Webster. Rathbun stated he was attempting to maneuver Webster again from a safety perimeter that he and different officers have been struggling to keep up.
Rathbun’s physique digital camera captured Webster shouting profanities and insults earlier than they made any bodily contact. The video reveals that Webster slammed one of many bike racks at Rathbun earlier than the officer reached out with an open left hand and struck the best aspect of Webster’s face.
After Rathbun struck his face, Webster swung a steel 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 gasoline masks, choking him by the chin strap.
Webster drove alone to Washington, D.C., from his dwelling close to Goshen, New York, on the eve of the Jan. 6 “Cease the Steal” rally, the place Trump addressed hundreds of supporters. Webster was carrying a bulletproof vest and carrying a Marine Corps flag on a steel pole when he joined the mob that stormed the Capitol.
Webster stated 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 intervene 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.