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Ex-NYPD officer receives longest sentence for rioting on January 6 so far

Thomas Webster was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting an officer during a riot on January 6, 2021 at the US Capitol.

A retired New York Police Department (NYPD) officer has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting an officer with a flagpole during last year’s attack on the United States Capitol, the longest sentence handed down to date in connection with the January 6 events.

Thomas Webster, a 20-year-old veteran of the New York Police Department, was sentenced Thursday after being convicted in May of assaulting a police officer in Washington, D.C. during the riots.

US District Judge Amit Mehta sentenced the 56-year-old to 10 years in prison plus three years of supervised release, but allowed Buster to report to the prison on a set date rather than immediately order the detention.

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“Mr. Webster, I don’t think you’re a bad person,” the judge said Thursday. “I think you got caught in a moment. But you know, even getting caught in a moment’s trap has consequences.”

About 250 people have been punished for participating in the Capitol riot, which saw a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters storm the building in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.

In the court filing, prosecutors accused Webster of “insulting democracy.”

“Every single attack on an officer at West Plaza weakens the defensive line, inflames the crowd, and brings the rioters one step closer to disrupting our democracy,” they wrote.

Webster was the first accused in the Capitol riots to be tried on assault charges and said he had acted in self-defense against a “rogue cop” who incited the fight.

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The jury rejected this allegation and found that Webster dealt with Metropolitan Police Officer Noah Rathbone and snatched his gas mask outside the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Body camera footage showed Webster yelling at Rathbone and then slamming him with a bicycle rack.

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In May, jurors found Webster guilty of all six counts in the indictment, including the charge of assaulting Rathbone with a dangerous weapon, flagpole.

Federal prosecutors recommended 17 years and six months in prison, alleging that Webster played an important role as the crowd accused police of barricades at Lower West Plaza at the Capitol.

Defense attorney James Monroe argued that Webster “immersed himself in the enthusiasm of the large crowd” but did not join the other rioters in entering the Capitol.

Webster traveled alone to Washington, D.C., from his home near Goshan, New York, on the eve of the January 6 “Stop the Robbery” rally, where Trump delivered an incendiary speech to thousands of his supporters.

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Webster was wearing a flak jacket and carrying a Marine flag on a metal pole when he joined the crowd that stormed the Capitol.

Webster said he went to the Capitol to ask lawmakers to “reconsider” the results of the 2020 presidential election, but claimed he had no intention of interfering with congressional efforts to certify Biden’s victory.

“I hope the horrific events don’t happen that day,” he told the judge on Thursday.

Mehta said Rathbone, the police officer, was not Webster’s only victim on January 6. The judge added: “The other victim was democracy, which is something that cannot be taken lightly.”

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