Orange County man accused of attacking a cop during the Jan. 6 disturbances in District of Columbia freed

Florida. Judge releases Thomas Webster, a retired Marine and New York City police officer, to 24-hour home confinement in the Village of Florida.

| 30 Jun 2021 | 12:22

After four months of shuttling from one lockup to another, an Orange County man accused of attacking a police officer during the Jan. 6 disturbances at the Capital can return home while his case is adjudicated.

The Washington Post quoted District Judge Amit Mitra, during a June 29 public hearing, describing the conduct of Thomas Webster as “some of the worst behavior, some of the most assaultive conduct that I’ve seen.”

Still, the judge released Webster, 55, a retired Marine and New York City police officer from Florida, N.Y., to 24-hour home confinement. He will not be allowed to leave his home without the permission of court pre-trial services, said Goshen lawyer James Monroe, and must wear a GPS monitor to track his movements. He was also ordered to stay off communication devices and social media. Any violation of his probation could result in a return to jail.

Webster faces an indictment of five felonies and two misdemeanors. The most serious charge is assault on a law enforcement officer with a deadly or dangerous weapon – in this case aluminum flagpole weighing less than one pound. The maximum sentence is 20 years in prison.

Relying on open-source video and a police officer’s body worn camera, the government argued in court papers that Webster “took the law into his own hands” when he bulled his way past a barricade in front of the Capitol shouting profanities, swung a pole with a Marine flag at a D.C. police officer identified as N.R., wrestled the officer to the ground, clutched his gas mask and caused him to stop breathing for 10 minutes.

Confinement in Westchester, Goshen, Oklahoma, Virginia

Webster surrendered at the Hudson Valley FBI office on Feb 22. A federal magistrate judge in White Plains acknowledged the next day that there was no indication he would not appear for future court dates but ruled that the defendant’s behavior showed he was too dangerous to be released.

Webster was initially in the custody of federal marshals in Westchester County and was then held for a brief period in the Orange County Jail.

With no explanation, he was uprooted in the middle of the night and sent with other Jan. 6 defendants to a facility in Cushing, Oklahoma, 1,411 miles from the Goshen office of his attorney. He was then moved to a facility in Warsaw, Virginia, 361 miles from Goshen. He ended up in the D.C. Central Correction Facility.

Monroe wrote in his motion to revoke or modify his client’s detention that his client was “incredibly decent,” a devout Catholic with “a deep devotion to country and the rule of law.” He is married and has three children. He has no criminal record. This was his first protest.

He said that Webster was exercising his constitutional rights when “however misguided,” he drove to the nation’s capital alone to protect the results of the election in which Donald Trump was defeated. He attended rallies on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 before waling to the Capitol. He did not enter the building or damage any government property.

Monroe argued that his client was outraged by the excessive force N.R. was using against peaceful protesters. The government responded that the officer was only doing his job by trying to contain out-of-control rioters. It said that N.R. pushed Webster in the chest but denied Webster’s claim that the officer punched him in the face.

‘No indication ... that he was provoked by the political climate of January 6’

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hava Arin Levenson Mirrell wrote in her response to Monroe’s motion, “There is no indication, and defendant does not argue, that he was provoked by the political climate of January 6. Rather he maintains that he was fueled by his desire to defend ‘innocent’ protesters from police misconduct. If defendant is willing to violently assault and suffocate a law enforcement officer. to defend total strangers from conduct that he did not personally observe or witness, there is no saying what other violence he is capable of inflicting.”

At the June 29 hearing, Mirrell read a statement from N.R. saying that Webster’s actions had put him in fear of his life.

About 500 people have been charged with participating in the Jan. 6 events at the Capitol; 50 have been jailed pending appeal. Webster’s next court date is Aug. 31.