A retired New York Police Department officer was sentenced on Thursday to 10 years in prison for attacking the U.S. Capitol and using a metal flagpole to assault one of the police officers trying to hold off a rioting mob of Donald Trump-loving terrorists.
Thomas Webster’s prison sentence is the longest so far among roughly 250 people who have been punished for their conduct during the failed attempted coup d’etat on Jan. 6, 2021.
The previous longest was shared by two other Trump-loving terrorists, Scott Fairlamb and Jacob Chansley, the so-called QAnon shaman, who were sentenced separately to seven years and three months in prison.
Webster, a 20-year NYPD veteran, was the first Capitol riot defendant to be tried on an assault charge and the first to present a self-defense argument.
A jury rejected Webster’s claim that he was defending himself when he tackled Metropolitan Police Department officer Noah Rathbun and grabbed his gas mask outside the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Webster, 56, of the village of Florida, New York, was sentenced in the District of Columbia. His and others’ actions disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election.
“As a former Marine and retired police officer, Thomas Webster could readily see the growing dangers to law enforcement when he and other members of the mob targeted the Capitol on January 6th,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves. “He chose to escalate the situation, brutally going on the attack. Today’s sentence holds him accountable for his repeated attacks of an officer that day.”
“As a former police officer and U.S. Marine who took an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, Thomas Webster knew the severity of his actions on January 6,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office. “When he assaulted an officer at the U.S. Capitol that day, Mr. Webster betrayed not only his oath but also his fellow law enforcement officers, who risk their lives every day to protect the American people. Today’s sentencing – the longest given to any Capitol riots subject to date — matches the gravity of Mr. Webster’s offenses. The FBI continues to work with our partners to bring the perpetrators of egregious assaults on law enforcement and our democracy to justice.”
According to the government’s evidence, on Jan. 6, Webster first attended a rally and then moved to the Capitol, where he illegally entered the Capitol grounds.
He wore a bulletproof vest and carried a large metal flagpole bearing the red and yellow flag of the U.S. Marine Corps.
At approximately 2:28 p.m., Webster was among the mob on the other side of metal barricades set up by law enforcement officers attempting to secure the Lower West Plaza area of the Capitol.
Webster approached Police Officer Noah Rathbun, of the Metropolitan Police Department, who was behind the metal gates. Webster pointed his finger at Rathbun and began swearing at him, telling him, among other things to “take your sh— off,” an apparent invitation to the officer to take off his badge and fight.
Webster then aggressively shoved the metal gate into Rathbun’s body. He raised the flagpole and forcefully swung it toward the officer. The officer managed to wrest the flagpole away.
Webster, however, then broke through the metal barricade, tackled the officer to the ground, and tried to remove his helmet and gas mask, choking him.
During this attack, Rathbun struggled to breathe.
While Webster had the officer restrained on the ground and unable to breathe, others in the mob began kicking the officer. The officer sustained several injuries as a result of Webster’s attack.
Webster was arrested on Feb. 21, 2021. He was found guilty by a jury on May 2, 2022, of five felonies: assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon; obstructing officers during a civil disorder; entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, while carrying a dangerous weapon; engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, while carrying a dangerous weapon, and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds, while carrying a dangerous weapon. He also was found guilty of one misdemeanor, engaging in an act of physical violence in the Capitol building or grounds.
Following his prison term, Webster will be placed on three years of supervised release.
He also must pay $2,060 in restitution.
In the 19 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 860 individuals have been arrested for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 260 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.
Anyone with information about the terrorists who participated in the failed coup attempt should call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.