Ex-cop gets 10 years prison for joining January 6 Capitol assault
A retired New York policeman was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday for joining the violent January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol, the stiffest punishment yet for those who took part in the riot.
Thomas Webster, 56, a former marine, earned the heavy punishment after having joined the uprising by supporters of then-president Donald Trump and attacking police officers guarding the Capitol with a flagpole, the Justice Department said.
Webster wrestled one officer to the ground, held him down, choking the officer by his gas mask, while others in the mob kicked the officer, leaving him with multiple injuries.
“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 January 6th,” FBI officer Steven D´Antuono said in a statement.
“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,” he said.
Clearly identified in photographs and videos, Webster was arrested six weeks after the assault and in May was found guilty on five felony charges relating to an assault on a law enforcement officer and one misdemeanor.
Prosecutors said his background, and his wearing of body armor designed to stop gunfire, justified a stiffer sentence.
They said he went into the event planning for violence.
“Webster did not just anticipate violence on January 6; he instigated it,” prosecutors said in sentencing hearings.
“In so doing, he knew that he was risking a violent confrontation with someone armed with a gun who would have been authorized to use force, including potentially deadly force, against attacking rioters,” they said.
Scores of others in the more than 860 arrested in the Capitol attack have been charged with assaulting officers.
But around a dozen of those sentenced for assaulting officers so far have opted to plead guilty, while Webster maintained his innocence and his case went to trial.
Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of between 17 and 22 years.
Trump, who has been accused of instigating the attack on the Capitol to stop Democratic rival Joe Biden from being certified as president-elect, has not condemned the violence carried out in his name.
He told a radio interviewer Thursday that if he runs for president again in 2024 and is elected, he will pardon those charged in the violence.
“I mean full pardons with an apology to many,” Trump said in the interview with Wendy Bell Radio. AFP