THE THIN BLUE LINE
A former New York City police officer and Marine Corps veteran, who swung a flagpole at police before tackling one officer and yanking his gas mask off during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced to 10years in prison Thursday, the longest sentence handed down so far among the more than 860 people charged in the insurrection.
Thomas Webster, 56, of Goshen, N.Y., was the first riot defendant facing the felony charge of assaulting an officer to try his luck with a jury. Twelve others have pleaded guilty to a similar charge. Webster took the witness stand at his trial and testified that he was acting in self-defense, saying D.C. police officer Noah Rathbun had instigated the fight.
Video showed Webster yelling at police on the Lower West Plaza of the Capitol, as officers struggled to maintain a perimeter outside the building. Rathbun then pushed Webster in the face — Rathbun testified his hand slipped off Webster’s shoulder — before Webster swung and smashed a Marine Corps flagpole on a bike rack and then tackled Rathbun. Webster pulled the officer’s gas mask off, causing Rathbun to begin choking on tear gas, the officer testified.
The jury took 3 hours to find him guilty.