A jury found retired New York City police officer Thomas Webster guilty on Monday of assaulting a Washington, DC, cop during the attack on the Capitol, handing down just the latest conviction in a trial stemming from the January 6, 2021, insurrection.
Webster, 56, was convicted on all six charges he faced, including disorderly conduct with a dangerous weapon and trespassing on restricted Capitol grounds. A former Marine who — as a New York City cop — later served on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s security detail, Webster now faces a potential years-long prison sentence.
The jury delivered the verdict after only a few hours of deliberations Monday, roundly rejecting Webster’s claim that he attacked the Washington, DC, officer in self-defense. It was the fourth conviction in as many jury trials for the Justice Department in cases arising out of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, coming on the heels of guilty verdicts against a member of the far-right Three Percenters armed group, a former police officer in Virginia, and an unemployed exterminator who blamed former President Donald Trump for his involvement in the insurrection.
The verdict followed a week-long trial that featured testimony from the Washington, DC, police officer whom Webster assaulted. Prosecutors displayed video footage from January 6 showing Webster confronting Officer Noah Rathbun at bike racks outside the Capitol, then repeatedly slamming a flag pole — bearing the Marine Corps flag — into the metal barrier between them.
The video footage showed Webster then breaching the metal barrier and tackling Rathbun to the ground. On the witness stand, Rathbun recounted feeling overwhelmed by the sheer size of the crowd on January 6 and remembered feeling choked by his helmet’s chin strap as Webster put his hands to the officer’s gas mask.
Webster argued that he was acting in self-defense when he swung his flag pole and charged at Rathbun. On Thursday, Webster testified that Rathbun hit him like a “freight train” from the other side of the metal bike rack.
His defense lawyer, James Monroe, showed video footage in which Rathbun appeared to make contact with Webster’s head after Webster pushed the bike rack into the line of police officers protecting the Capitol. But Rathbun testified that he only made contact with Webster “incidentally” — and with an open hand — as he tried to gesture for him to back up from the metal barrier.
Immediately after the verdict, Monroe told Insider, “This is a difficult day for Tom Webster and his family.” Monroe did not rule out appealing the conviction.
“We have to give some thoughtful consideration to the result we achieved today, and decide where to go from here,” he said.
After jurors departed the courtroom, prosecutor Katherine Nielsen asked Judge Amit Mehta to order that Webster be detained as he awaits his September 2 sentencing. Nielson emphasized that Webster was now “convicted of a crime of violence” and “convicted of five very significant felonies.”
Calling the charges “extremely serious,” she noted that Webster also faces a “long sentence.”
Mehta, an Obama appointee, declined to order Webster behind bars but said it was a “close call.” Webster was released from jail last year into home confinement and was ordered to wear an ankle monitor — conditions that “will ensure his return to court,” Mehta said Monday.
Mehta added that Webster’s background as a police officer and Marine made him “less concerned” that the now-convicted Capitol rioter would not return to court for sentencing.
With Monday’s verdict, the Justice Department continued a streak of decisive victories in jury trials stemming from the Capitol attack, which has given rise to nearly 800 prosecutions. But bench trials — in which a judge hands down the verdict — have resulted in mixed results for the Justice Department.
In one case, Judge Trevor McFadden found a New Mexico county commissioner guilty of trespassing on restricted Capitol grounds but acquitted him on a separate misdemeanor charge. A subsequent bench trial ended with McFadden, a Trump appointee, issuing the first outright acquittal in a January 6 case, finding a New Mexico engineer not guilty on four misdemeanor charges.
This report was published on Insider.