A retired NYPD officer and former Marine from the Hudson Valley is facing charges for allegedly assaulting a police officer with a flagpole during the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol last month.
Orange County resident Thomas Webster, age 54, of Florida, New York, turned himself in to law enforcement this week after an alert was issued by the FBI for his arrest after he “made unlawful entry into the U.S. Capitol and assaulted law enforcement” during the riots on Jan. 6.
Prosecutors said that Webster “attacked a police officer with an aluminum pole and ripped off his protective gear and gas mask, causing the officer to choke.”
Webster was charged with six counts relating to the attack on an officer from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., and his participation in the violent attempt to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election results.
Prosecutors said that there were videos released of Webster attacking the officer, first with a metal flagpole while holding the Marine Corps flag, then with his fists. The officer managed to wrestle the flagpole away from Webster before he tackled him, pinned him to the ground and attempted to rip off his mask, leaving the officer unable to breathe.
“(Expletive) piece of (expletive)," Webster allegedly yelled as he attacked the officer. "Commie mother (expletive).”
In the video, Webster can be seen aggressively shoving a protective metal gate into an officer’s body before arming himself with the flagpole. He proceeded to lunge toward the officer, striking him multiple times before the weapon was wrestled away from him.
Webster then allegedly broke through the metal barricade and charged toward the officer with clenched fists before he was taken down.
The video later showed Webster on the staircase leading up to the Upper West Terrace of the Capitol building, at which point he shouted “Send more patriots. We need some help.”
“These videos shock the conscience," assistant US Attorney Benjamin Gianforti said during Webster’s initial court appearance. "We see the defendant, clear as day, attacking a police officer, first with an aluminum pole and then with his bare hands, ripping the officer's protective gear off.
“We see what I would describe as a look of pure rage," he said. "His teeth are gritted. This is a man who was about to unleash violence on that poor police officer.”
Webster’s defense lawyers reportedly listed his ties to New York, his service in the Marine Corps. and argued that he was just following the lead of former President Donald Trump.
“Mr. Webster went to the Capitol January 6 to participate in a protest, judge," attorney James Monroe stated. "He's not a leader of any organization. He went there as an American citizen. He went there to an event that was urged on by our president.”
However, Webster’s lawyers were rebuffed by Judge Andrew Krause, who said that it was extra troubling that a former serviceman and officer was caught on camera during the riot.
“The conduct on the video does shock the conscience,” he said. "It makes it particularly troubling and perplexing to weigh that impressive resume of public service against what we see in this video. What we see in this video is a person who flat out attacks a law enforcement officer, first verbally and then with a metal pole that he swings repeatedly."
Following his court appearance in White Plains, Webster is being held without bail and cited as a “danger to the community.”
As a member of the NYPD, Webster reportedly was assigned to protect the mayor's residence at Gracie Mansion.
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