Sentenced to 10 years behind bars for beating a police officer during the 2021 Capitol Hill riot, retired New York cop Thomas Webster blamed Donald Trump and other “unscrupulous politicians” for unleashing a mob on Congress to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power to Joe Biden.
“Promoters of the lie the 2020 election was stolen have nearly taken over one political party and stoked national distrust in our electoral process,” defense attorney James E. Monroe wrote in a memorandum seeking leniency in Webster’s punishment. “These forces championed by former President Donald Trump exerted an extraordinary amount of influence over those Americans present at the Capitol on January 6th through their relentless disinformation, which turned otherwise decent, law-abiding citizens such as Mr. Webster against his fellow Americans.”
Insisting Webster no longer believed the 2020 election was illegitimate, Monroe urged US District Judge Amit P. Mehta to sentence the Marine veteran to several years of probation. Instead, on Thursday, Sept. 1, Mehta ordered Webster to spend the next decade inside a federal penitentiary for assaulting a law enforcement officer, plus five other charges.
It’s the longest sentence handed down so far tied to the Jan. 6, 2021, unrest. But prosecutors thought it was too light. They asked the judge to put Webster, 56, away for more than 17 years.
On May 2, a federal jury convicted Webster for savagely beating Metropolitan Police Officer Noah Rathbun, who was trying to block demonstrators from entering the Capitol.
Webster, a landscaper in the village of Florida in New York, claimed he attacked Rathbun in self-defense, but jurors unanimously rejected his excuse.
“You fucking piece of shit. You fucking commie motherfuckers, man,” Webster shouted at Rathbun from behind a metal gate. “Come on, take your shit off. Take your shit off.”
Authorities said Webster struck the officer multiple times with the metal flagpole, allegations Webster denied.
Although Rathbun wrested the metal pole from him, Webster broke through the barricade and charged the cop with clenched fists, tackling him to the ground, and then spent the next 10 seconds straddling him while trying to rip off the officer’s face shield and helmet.
Rathbun later told the FBI that Webster had choked Rathbun with his chin strap and he was unable to breathe.
“As a former police officer and US Marine who took an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, Thomas Webster knew the severity of his actions on Jan. 6,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, in a prepared statement released following the sentencing hearing. “When he assaulted an officer at the US Capitol that day, Mr. Webster betrayed not only his oath but also his fellow law enforcement officers, who risk their lives every day to protect the American people.”
Neither Webster nor his legal team responded to Coffee or Die Magazine’s messages seeking comment. In court filings, Webster’s attorney, Monroe, portrayed the New Yorker as a peaceful man “duped and used as a pawn by senior elected officials he trusted” to fight for “a just cause” that turned out to be bogus.
Throughout his pleadings, Monroe played up both Webster’s military service and an unblemished record as a cop patrolling some of New York’s roughest neighborhoods for two decades.
Webster served nearly four years as a rifleman assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, in Camp Lejeune. He honorably exited the service as a corporal with a Good Conduct Medal, a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with one star, and a Meritorious Unit Commendation with one star.
According to Monroe, Webster overcame a personal battle with booze to work his way up from neighborhood beat cop to the mayor’s personal protection detail. He wore his police-issued ballistic body armor to the 2021 riot.
Rather than mitigating Webster’s misbehavior, federal prosecutors argued that his service as an infantryman and police officer made his violent crimes even more troubling.
“It is particularly disturbing that a former NYPD officer, once responsible for manning bike-back barricades and protecting dignitaries, would help lead the breach of the barricades outside the US Capitol,” Assistant US Attorney Hava Arin Levenson Mirell wrote. “It is also disturbing that a former Marine would use his US Marine Corps flag as a deadly and dangerous weapon during an attack on our democracy.”
Webster was ordered by the judge to “self-report” to prison, and federal records show Webster has yet to begin his incarceration.