Recorded on video repeatedly striking a Metropolitan police officer with a flagpole and ripping off his gas mask, a retired New York Police Department (NYPD) officer and former Marine was charged Tuesday for his participation in the Capitol riots on January 6.
Honorably discharged from the U.S. Marines, Thomas Webster spent 20 years with the NYPD before he retired in 2011. According to law enforcement officials, Webster worked security for City Hall and the New York City mayor’s official residence Gracie mansion as part of his official duties.
On January 6, Webster was recorded on police body cam video repeatedly hitting a Metropolitan police officer with a metal flagpole bearing a red U.S. Marine Corps flag at the base of the West Front of the Capitol building. The officer eventually pulled the flagpole out of Webster’s hands before retreating behind a metal barricade.
According to videos posted to Twitter, Webster broke through the metal barricade and tackled the officer to the ground. While pinning the officer down, Webster attempted to steal his riot shield and gas mask.
The officer, identified only as “N.R.” in the criminal complaint, told interviewers that Webster tried to rip off his helmet, which was securely fastened by his chin strap. According to the officer, he was unable to breathe for several seconds because Webster had been choking him with the chin strap while attempting to steal the helmet.
Webster was later recorded on a YouTube video standing on the staircase leading to the Upper West Terrace of the Capitol building. In the video, Webster looks directly into the camera and says, “Send more patriots. We need some help.”
On Monday, Webster surrendered himself to the FBI’s Hudson Valley office after he was identified by photos of him at the Capitol riots. A vehicle license plate reader also took a photo of his registered vehicle and New York license plate number in Washington, D.C., at 4:32 a.m. on January 5.
On Tuesday, Webster was charged with one count of assaulting, resisting, opposing, impeding, intimidating, or interfering with any person assisting an officer or employee of the United States in the performance of their official duties while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon; one count of obstructing, impeding, or interfering with any law enforcement officer during the commission of a civil disorder which in any way obstructs or delays the conduct or performance of any federally protected function; one count each of unlawful entry, engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct, and engaging in an act of physical violence against any person on restricted building or grounds while armed with a dangerous or deadly weapon; and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Webster appeared Tuesday at a detention hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and was ordered detained with a future appearance date of March 3, 2021.
According to Webster’s attorney, James Monroe, Webster simply went to the Capitol at the urging of then-President Donald Trump in order to protest. Monroe did not deny that Webster was the individual in all of the videos.