Retired policeman gets longest US Capitol riot sentence for assaulting officer

US News

A retired New York policeman has been jailed for assaulting one of the officers who tried to stop the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol building.

Thomas Webster was sentenced to ten years, the longest term yet given in a case related to the riot.

Webster, 56, was found guilty in May after a jury did not believe he was acting in self-defence when he swung a flag pole at a police officer, charged through a barricade and tackled the man to the ground during the riot in Washington DC.

Tear gas is released into a crowd of protesters during clashes with Capitol police at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo
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Tear gas had to be released into the crowd of protesters

On the morning of the riots in January 2021, thousands of supporters of Donald Trump – inspired by an incendiary speech he had just given near the White House in which he repeated claims he had been denied a second term due to voter fraud – marched to the Capitol building that houses the US seat of government.

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The Capitol was in session at the time, overseeing the congressional certification of Joe Biden‘s presidential election win.

A big group breached barriers at pedestrian entrances to the building’s grounds. Several also entered the Capitol building itself after a mob smashed windows and forced open doors.

More than 100 police officers were injured in the chaos.

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Webster, a 20-year NYPD veteran, was the first Capitol riot defendant to be tried on an assault charge.

CBS News reported Judge Amit Mehta told Webster during sentencing: “I too, wish you hadn’t come to Washington DC. I, too, wish you had stayed at home in New York … that you had not come out to the Capitol that day, because all of us would be far better off.

“Not just you… your family… the country.”

Separately, a lawyer for the far-right Oath Keepers extremist group has been charged with conspiracy in connection with the Capitol attack.

Pro-Trump protesters clash with Capitol police at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Pro-Trump protesters on the National Mall in DC

Seditious conspiracy

The US Justice Department said on Thursday that Kellye SoRelle – general counsel for the anti-government group – was arrested in Texas on charges including conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.

SoRelle is a close associate of Stewart Rhodes, the Oath Keepers’ leader who is heading to trial later this month alongside other extremists on seditious conspiracy charges.

SoRelle has previously said she had no knowledge of or involvement in the Capitol breach.

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