Appeals Court Upholds NYPD Veteran's Jan. 6 Sentence

Thomas Webster argued that entire Washington, DC jury pool was biased against him
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 2, 2022 6:30 PM CDT
Updated May 28, 2024 5:22 PM CDT
NYPD Veteran Guilty of Assaulting Officer During Capitol Attack
This still frame from Metropolitan Police Department body-worn camera video shows Thomas Webster, in red jacket, at a barricade line on the west front of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.   (Metropolitan Police Department via AP, File)
UPDATE May 28, 2024 5:22 PM CDT

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a retired New York Police Department officer's conviction and 10-year prison sentence for assaulting a police officer during the Capitol attack. A three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected Thomas Webster's claims that he was convicted by a biased jury, the AP reports. Webster, a 20-year NYPD veteran, argued that the entire jury pool in Washington, DC, was "presumptively prejudiced" against him. But the panel, which included two judges nominated by Donald Trump, found no evidence that the jury pool had any preconceived notions about Webster, "or even knew who he was."

May 2, 2022 6:30 PM CDT

A federal jury on Monday convicted a New York Police Department veteran of assaulting an officer during the Capitol riot, rejecting his claim that he was defending himself when he tackled the officer and grabbed his gas mask. Thomas Webster, a 20-year NYPD veteran who retired in 2011, was the first Capitol riot defendant to be tried on an assault charge and the first to present a jury with a self-defense argument, the AP reports. Jurors deliberated for less than three hours before they convicted Webster of all six counts in his indictment, including a charge that he assaulted Metropolitan Police Department officer Noah Rathbun with a dangerous weapon, a metal flagpole

The assault charge alone is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, although sentencing guidelines likely will recommend a significantly shorter prison term. Webster, 56, testified that he was trying to protect himself from a "rogue cop" who punched him in the face. He also accused Rathbun of instigating the confrontation. Rathbun testified that he didn't punch or pick a fight with Webster as a violent mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Two jurors who spoke to reporters after the verdict said videos capturing the assault on the officer from multiple angles were crucial evidence rebutting Webster's self-defense argument.

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"I guess we were all surprised that he would even make that defense argument," said a juror who spoke on condition of anonymity. "There was no dissention among us at all. We unanimously agreed that there was no self-defense argument here at all." Another juror, said Webster's self-defense claim "just didn't stack up." US District Judge Amit Mehta is scheduled to sentence Webster on Sept. 2. Prosecutors asked for Webster to be detained, but the judge decided to let him remain free until his sentencing. Webster's jury trial was the fourth for a Capitol riot case. The first three defendants to get a jury trial were also convicted of all charges.

(More Capitol riot stories.)

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