WASHINGTON – A federal jury on Monday convicted a New York Police Division veteran of assaulting an officer throughout a US Capitol riot, rejecting his declare that he was holding his fuel masks whereas coping with the officer. So he was defending himself.
Thomas Webster, a 20-year-old NYPD veteran, was the primary Capitol riot defendant to be tried on assault prices and the primary to current to a jury with a self-defense argument.
The jurors deliberated for lower than three hours earlier than indicting Webster on all six counts in his indictment, together with an allegation that he attacked Metropolitan Police Division officer Noah Rathbun with a harmful weapon, a metallic attacked with the flag. The assault cost alone may carry as much as 20 years in jail, though sentencing tips would probably suggest a a lot shorter jail time period.
Webster, 56, testified 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.
Two jurors who spoke to reporters after the decision mentioned the movies that captured the officer’s assault from a number of angles have been vital proof contradicting Webster’s self-defense argument.
One juror, talking on situation of anonymity, mentioned, “I believe we have been all stunned that he would even make a protection argument. We had no variations of opinion. We unanimously agreed that there was no self-defense argument right here. All.” “
One other juror, who additionally spoke on situation of anonymity, mentioned Webster’s declare of self-defense “simply did not stack up.”
US District Choose Amit Mehta will sentence Webster on September 2.
Webster’s jury trial was the fourth within the Capital riots case. The primary three defendants to get a jury trial have been additionally convicted of all prices of their respective indictments. A decide determined two different circumstances with out a jury, acquitting one of many defendants and partially acquitting the opposite.
Sporting a masks in courtroom, Webster confirmed no obvious response to the decision.
“We’re disenchanted,” protection legal professional James Monroe mentioned after the decision, “however we acknowledged from the outset that folks right here (in Washington, DC) have been deeply harm by what occurred on January 6. And I believe we’ve got Noticed one thing it expressed right this moment.”
Prosecutors requested for Webster to be taken into custody, however the decide agreed to let him stay free till sentencing. He’ll proceed to be monitored with an ankle bracelet. The decide mentioned it was a “shut name” as to whether he must be despatched to jail instantly, however famous that he had complied with the present situations of launch and had no prior convictions.
Webster went to Washington alone from his residence close to Goshen, New York, on the eve of the January 6 “Cease the Steal” rally. As he approached the Capitol after listening to a speech by 1000’s of Trump supporters, he was carrying a bulletproof vest and a US Marine Corps flag on a metallic pole.
Webster mentioned he went to the Capitol to “petition” over the outcomes of the 2020 presidential election. However he testified that he didn’t intend to intervene with a joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral Faculty vote.
Rathbun’s physique digicam captured Webster abusing and abusing her earlier than making any bodily contact. Webster mentioned he was attending his first political protest as a citizen and expressed his rights to speech when he shouted at officers behind a row of motorbike racks.
Physique digicam video reveals Webster slamming one of many bike racks at Rathbun, earlier than officers reached out with an open left hand and hit the proper aspect of Webster’s face. Webster mentioned it felt like he had been hit by a freight practice.
“It was a tough hit, and I simply wished to defend myself,” Webster mentioned.
Rathbun mentioned he was attempting to get Webster again from a safety perimeter he and different officers have been struggling to take care of.
After Rathbun was hit within the face, Webster rolled a metallic flag pole on the officer whereas hitting a motorbike rack in a downward chopping movement. Rathbun grabbed the damaged pole from Webster, who charged the officer, slammed him to the bottom and grabbed his fuel masks.
Rathbun testified that because the chin strap on his fuel masks was pressed towards his throat, he started to suffocate. Webster mentioned he held Rathbun with a fuel masks as a result of he wished officers to see his arms.
Rathbun reported a hand damage from a separate encounter with rioters contained in the Capitol. He didn’t report any accidents attributable to Webster, however jurors did see images of damage to the leg, which Rathbun attributed to his confrontation with the retired officer.
Webster confronted counts of assault, resisting, or obstructing an officer utilizing a harmful weapon; civil dysfunction; Coming into and dwelling in restricted grounds with a harmful weapon; disorderly and disruptive conduct on a prohibited foundation with a harmful weapon; Partaking in bodily violence on a restricted foundation with a harmful weapon; and fascinating in acts of bodily violence on the grounds of the Capitol.
Webster retired from the NYPD in 2011 after 20 years of service, which included a stint on the private safety particulars of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He served within the US Marine Corps from 1985 to 1989 earlier than becoming a member of the NYPD in 1991.
Greater than 780 folks have been charged with riot-related federal crimes. The Justice Division says greater than 245 of them have been charged with assault or obstructing regulation enforcement. Greater than 100 officers have been injured.
Two different defendants testified at his trial. Dustin Byron Thompson, an Ohio man who was indicted by a jury for obstructing Congress from testifying Biden’s presidential victory, mentioned he was following Trump’s orders. A decide who heard testimony with out a jury acquitted Matthew Martin, a New Mexico man who mentioned the next variety of cops had allowed him and others to enter the Capitol by means of the rotunda doorways.
The 2 riot defendants didn’t testify at their trials earlier than a jury convicted them of all prices, together with interfering with officers. One in all them, Thomas Robertson, was an off-duty police officer from Rocky Mount, Virginia. Secondly, Texas resident Man Wesley Refitt was additionally convicted of assaulting the Capitol with a pistol.
Trump-nominated US District Choose Trevor McFadden, who acquitted Martin of all prices, additionally presided over a bench trial for New Mexico’s elected official Kauya Griffin. McFadden pleaded Griffin to illegally enter the restricted Capitol grounds however acquitted him of disorderly conduct.