Washington — A Marine Corps veteran who also served in former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s protection detail was convicted of assaulting law enforcement in front of the U.S. Capitol on March 6. January 2021 and other charges.
In the weeks after the Capitol attack, Thomas Webster turned himself in to an FBI field office in New York. He was arrested and charged, and a superseding indictment was filed late last year charging him with multiple counts, including violence and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. A Washington, DC jury convicted him of all charges, including assaulting a police officer, on Monday after only a few hours of deliberation, WUSA’s Jordan Fischer reported.
The federal trial that spanned nearly four days of arguments and testimony was based on conflicting accounts of an altercation between Webster and Washington, DC, police officer Noah Rathbun outside the Capitol building on January 6.
Prosecutors said that on the morning of the attack, Webster, wielding a large metal flagpole bearing a red US Marine Corps flag, walked to the front of the crowd of Trump supporters gathered at the perimeter of the law enforcement officers intended to protect legislators inside. the capitol building. After crossing onto restricted land, the government alleged that Webster yelled at one of the officers, “You fucking piece of shit. You fucking communist motherfuckers, man.” He then allegedly used the flagpole on the officer, swinging over the police line.
The government accused Webster of knocking Rathbun to the ground, pushing against his gas mask and ultimately pinning the officer to the group, attacks that were captured on police body camera and open source video.
“He knocked me to the ground,” Rathbun told the jury last week, testifying that he was “fighting for breath.”
“I did not cause this encounter,” the officer said.
But Webster’s description of the event was very different: he claimed he was the victim of a “rogue” police officer who “punched” him in the face, a claim Rathbun flatly denied.
Webster’s attorneys used much of the same video footage prosecutors used in an attempt to argue that their client was acting in self-defense on Jan. 6, alleging that the officer “used excessive force against him” “prior to any act or allegation” for which Webster is charged.
Officer Rathbun testified that he “unintentionally” shoved Webster in the face with an open hand after Webster tried to break through the bike racks blocking the Capitol grounds.
Testifying in his own defense last week, Webster told jurors he saw injured women and children on Capitol grounds and said he was frustrated with law enforcement’s treatment of protesters.
“I just saw people get hurt,” he said, adding that he decided not to enter the Capitol because he knew it was a protected area.
Later, at the police line on the west front of the Capitol, Webster alleged that the officer egged him on with hand gestures, a claim Rathbun also refuted.
“He starts pushing me,” the defendant said, “he really wanted to fight me.”
That’s when Webster testified that the officer hit his head “like a freight train,” another claim disputed by the officer, prosecutors and body camera video. He was under attack, Webster argued, and as the two officers, one current and one former, wrestled on the ground, Webster said he pressed Rathbun’s gas mask not to hurt him, but to defend himself.
However, the jury took just hours to conclude otherwise, and convicted Webster on all counts, including the assault on Rathbun.
Judge Amit Mehta, who oversaw the case, will allow Webster to remain on 24-hour home detention with ankle monitoring until sentencing on September 2. He faces decades in prison.
Webster is the first defendant on Jan. 6 charged with assaulting officers to go to trial. According to the Justice Department, at least 250 defendants have been charged with assaulting, resisting or hindering officers or employees and eight have pleaded guilty.
Outside court Monday, Webster’s defense attorney told reporters he thought his legal team had successfully argued the case and said a possible appeal is “in the cards.”