A federal jury on Monday convicted a New York Police Division veteran of assaulting an officer in the course of the U.S. Capitol riot, rejecting his declare that he was defending himself when he tackled the officer and grabbed his fuel masks.
Thomas 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 jury with a self-defense argument.
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 Metropolitan Police Division officer Noah Rathbun with a harmful weapon, a steel flagpole. The assault cost alone is punishable by as much as 20 years in jail, though sentencing pointers seemingly will advocate a considerably shorter jail time period.
A juror mentioned Webster’s self-defense declare ‘did not stack up’
Webster, 56, testified that he was making an attempt 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 did not punch or choose a combat with Webster as a violent mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, disrupting Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory over then-President Donald Trump.
Two jurors who spoke to reporters after the decision mentioned movies capturing the officer’s assault from a number of angles have been essential proof rebutting Webster’s self-defense argument.
“I suppose we have been all shocked that he would even make that protection argument,” mentioned a juror who spoke on situation of anonymity. “There was no dissention amongst us in any respect. We unanimously agreed that there was no self-defense argument right here in any respect.”
One other juror, who additionally spoke on situation of anonymity, mentioned Webster’s self-defense declare “simply did not stack up.”
Webster’s jury trial was the fourth for a Capitol riot case
U.S. District Choose Amit Mehta is scheduled to condemn Webster on Sept. 2.
Webster’s jury trial was the fourth for a Capitol riot case. The primary three defendants to get a jury trial additionally have been convicted of all prices of their respective indictments. A choose determined two different circumstances with no jury, acquitting one of many defendants and partially acquitting the opposite.
Webster, who wore a masks in court docket, confirmed no apparent response to the decision.
“We’re upset,” protection legal professional James Monroe mentioned after the decision, “however we acknowledged from the start that people right here (in Washington, D.C.) have been fairly traumatized by what transpired on Jan. 6. And I believe we noticed a few of this expressed as we speak.”
Prosecutors requested for Webster to be detained, however the choose agreed to let him stay free till his sentencing. He’ll proceed to be monitored with an ankle bracelet. The choose mentioned it was a “shut name” whether or not to jail him instantly however famous that he has complied with present circumstances of launch and does not have any prior convictions.
A physique digital camera video exhibits that Webster slammed a motorbike rack at an officer
Webster drove alone to Washington from his house close to Goshen, New York, on the eve of the Jan. 6 “Cease the Steal” rally. He was sporting a bulletproof vest and carrying a U.S. Marine Corps flag on a steel pole when he approached the Capitol, after listening to Trump deal with 1000’s of supporters.
Webster mentioned he went to the Capitol to “petition” lawmakers to “relook” on the outcomes of the 2020 presidential election. However he testified that he did not intend to intrude with Congress’ joint session to certify the Electoral School vote.
Rathbun’s physique digital camera captured Webster shouting profanities and insults earlier than they made any bodily contact. Webster mentioned he was attending his first political protest as a civilian and expressing his free speech rights when he yelled at officers behind a row of motorbike racks.
The physique digital camera video exhibits that Webster slammed one of many bike racks at Rathbun earlier than the officer reached out with an open left hand and struck the suitable aspect of Webster’s face. Webster mentioned it felt as if he had been hit by a freight practice.
“It was a tough hit, and all I needed to do was defend myself,” Webster mentioned.
Rathbun mentioned he was making an attempt to maneuver Webster again from a safety perimeter that he and different officers have been struggling to keep up.
After Rathbun struck his face, Webster swung a steel flag pole on the officer in a downward chopping movement, putting a motorbike rack. Rathbun grabbed the damaged pole from Webster, who charged on the officer, tackled him to the bottom and grabbed his fuel masks.
Rathbun testified that he began choking because the chin strap on his fuel masks pressed in opposition to his throat. Webster mentioned he grabbed Rathbun by the fuel masks as a result of he needed the officer to see his arms.
Rathbun reported a hand harm from a separate encounter with a rioter contained in the Capitol. He did not report any accidents brought on by Webster, however jurors noticed images of leg bruises that Rathbun attributed to his confrontation with the retired officer.
Webster confronted counts of assaulting, resisting or impeding an officer utilizing a harmful weapon; civil dysfunction; coming into and remaining in restricted grounds with a harmful weapon; disorderly and disruptive conduct in restricted grounds with a harmful weapon; participating in bodily violence in restricted grounds with a harmful weapon; and fascinating in an act of bodily violence on Capitol grounds.
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.
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 assaulting or impeding regulation enforcement. Greater than 100 officers have been injured.
Two different defendants testified at their trials. Dustin Byron Thompson, an Ohio man who was convicted by a jury of obstructing Congress from certifying Biden’s presidential victory, mentioned he was following orders from Trump. A choose listening to testimony with no jury acquitted Matthew Martin, a New Mexico man who mentioned outnumbered cops allowed him and others to enter the Capitol by way of the Rotunda doorways.
Two riot defendants did not testify at their trials earlier than jurors convicted them of all prices, together with interfering with officers. One in every of them, Thomas Robertson, was an off-duty police officer from Rocky Mount, Virginia. The opposite, Texas resident Man Wesley Reffitt, additionally was convicted of storming the Capitol with a holstered handgun.
U.S. District Choose Trevor McFadden, a Trump nominee who acquitted Martin of all prices, additionally presided over a bench trial for New Mexico elected official Couy Griffin. McFadden convicted Griffin of illegally coming into restricted Capitol grounds however acquitted him of participating in disorderly conduct.