New York Times

Retired N.Y.P.D. Officer Who Guarded City Hall Charged in Capitol Riot

A retired New York police officer who once worked on the security detail at City Hall was arrested on Tuesday on federal charges that he assaulted a police officer with metal flagpole during the pro-Trump riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The former officer, Thomas Webster, was part of a New York Police Department unit that provided security for the mayor, Gracie Mansion and City Hall, according to a law enforcement official. He retired from the force in 2011.

Mr. Webster, 54, a former Marine, surrendered to the F.B.I. on Monday and was charged with six counts relating to the attack on the officer and his participation in the violent attempt to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election results.

A federal prosecutor said there were videos of Mr. Webster attacking the officer, first with a metal flagpole that earlier had flown a Marine Corps flag, and then with his bare hands. Mr. Webster was also filmed as he ripped off the officer’s protective gear and caused him to choke.

“These videos shock the conscience,” the prosecutor, Benjamin A. Gianforti, said. He said Mr. Webster had shown an utter lack of compassion and had pursued the officer he attacked “like a junkyard dog.” The government did not immediately identify the officer who had been attacked or describe his injuries.

Among the most serious of the charges Mr. Webster faces is forcible assault of an officer of the United States with a dangerous weapon, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Appearing virtually before a federal magistrate judge in White Plains, N.Y., Mr. Webster did not dispute that he appeared in three separate videos of the attack recorded on Jan. 6.

Mr. Webster’s lawyer, James Monroe, said his client had traveled to the Capitol to engage in a lawful protest because he regarded the election as unfair. The lawyer said Mr. Webster had acted in self-defense after the officer punched him.

“He went there as an American citizen to protest, an event that was urged on by our former president — to protest an issue that Tom felt very strongly about,” he said. “That’s protecting the Constitution.”

The judge, Andrew E. Krause, agreed that the videos he had seen of Mr. Webster’s actions were shocking and ordered him held without bail pending another hearing.

William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.


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Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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