WASHINGTON — A retired New York City police officer who was convicted of several felonies for attacking a Washington police officer with a flagpole on Jan. 6, tackling the officer to the ground and trying to rip off his gas mask was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Thursday.
Thomas Webster was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta to the longest sentence yet in a case related to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Jurors convicted Webster, 56, in May after they determined he was lying on the stand when he tried to convince them he was trying to help the officer he assaulted to "see my hands" when he grabbed the officer's gas mask after he tackled him to the ground.
No one should be “gleeful” that Webster was facing 17.5 years in federal prison, Mehta said Thursday.
"What you did that day, it is hard to really put into words," Mehta told Webster. "I still remain shocked every single time I see" video of the attack.
Mehta said that Webster was "the first aggressor" in his confrontation with the Washington police officer and that "all hell broke loose" when Webster showed up at that part of the police line.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hava Arin Levenson Mirell told the judge: "Nothing can explain or justify Mr. Webster's rage. Webster is one of the rioters who should have known better.
“No one knows better than a former cop how dangerous it was on Jan. 6,” Mirell said, adding that Webster's service made his behavior “particularly heinous.”
Even if he didn’t know better than “to believe Trump’s lie,” he knew better than to assault officers, Mirell said.
“He feels entitled to do what he wants as a former police officer,” Mirell said. Webster went "old school" and "rogue" on Jan. 6, she said, adding that he “instigated violence” and that he was clearly anticipating a violent clash.
The Justice Department argued, and the jury concluded, that Webster was very clearly lying on the stand, calling his claims that the officer he attacked instigated the fight "preposterous." It would have been "absolutely insane" for the officer whom Webster assaulted to have invited Webster to fight him, the prosecutor said.
The arguments by Webster and his team "could not be more at odds with his testimony," Mehta said.
"I take no pleasure in doing this," Mehta said when he imposed the sentence, saying Webster "constructed an alternative truth" on the stand.
"The video doesn't lie," Mehta said. "The jury saw through it. I saw through it. It wasn't that hard. And I'm sorry you thought you could get up there and suggest otherwise."
Webster’s lawyers had sought a lower sentence, arguing in a filing this week that he suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome from his career as a police officer and blaming his actions on Jan. 6, in part, on “flashbacks.”