Prosecutors are seeking 210 months in prison for convicted Capitol rioter Thomas Webster, whose past includes time as a U.S. Marine and as an officer with the New York Police Department. His sentencing is September 2.
Webster receiving 210 months, which works out to 17 and a half years, would leave him with the longest sentence — by far — imposed on any Capitol rioter up to this point, although prosecutors already unsuccessfully sought 15 years in prison for Texas man and convicted rioter Guy Reffitt, who was later sentenced to a little over seven years. Webster was found guilty by a jury of six criminal charges in connection to the riot, including five felonies. The felonies included assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon; obstructing officers during a civil disorder; and entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds while carrying a dangerous weapon, alongside other criminal acts.
At the Capitol, Webster attacked Noah Rathbun, an officer with the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. The weapon Webster used in the assault was a metal flagpole that he swung towards police, hitting a metal bike rack which at that point stood between rioters and officers until the flagpole broke. Asked at trial if circumstances suggested Webster was trying to hit Rathbun with the flagpole, the officer replied in the affirmative. In a sentencing memo filed in Webster’s case, prosecutors describe a point in the afternoon when Webster’s attack on Rathbun — who the rioter encountered after making his way to the front of his portion of the riot crowd — dramatically escalated. After Rathbun sought to disarm Webster via taking the flagpole (or what remained of it), Webster, who apparently spent some two decades with the police force in NYC, according to prosecutors, furiously tackled Rathbun to the ground. Body cam images used in the sentencing memo make the frenzy on Webster’s face clear.
Once Rathbun was on the ground, Webster “dragged Officer Rathbun by his helmet, pinned him to the ground, and tried to rip off his gas mask,” prosecutors explained. Webster lunged at the officer and began this portion of the physical assault after Rathbun took part of the flagpole. A chinstrap on Rathbun’s helmet was choking him as Webster held him to the ground. Webster was eventually near the assault on then-D.C. officer Michael Fanone, who was brutally beaten by members of the mob. That incident took place near the entrance to the Lower West Terrace tunnel at the Capitol, where riot participants who used a flashing strobe light (meant for disorientation) and what evidence suggests was a lit firecracker against police were recently convicted at a bench trial, meaning a federal judge handled the question of guilt. At trial, Webster sought to characterize his actions as essentially justified, trying to use a self-defense excuse.
Webster even characterized Rathbun in testimony at his trial as a “rogue cop.” A defense attorney for Webster, James Monroe, insisted during trial proceedings that his client showed “restraint.” What? Does Monroe know what restraint means? In the original incident, Webster was screaming towards Rathbun, at which point the officer attempted to push the rioter’s hand away. Webster subsequently pushed into the metal barricade (a metal bike rack), and after the officer responded to Webster’s aggression by attempting once again to push the rioter back, Webster flipped and began swinging his metal flagpole, which carried a flag associated with the U.S. Marines.
JUST IN: DOJ seeking 210 month (17.5 year) sentence — which would be by far the longest — for Jan. 6 defendant Thomas Webster, a former NYPD officer convicted of assaulted a cop at the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/5nwn9VFnrz
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) August 25, 2022
Image: Brett Davis/ Creative Commons