WASHINGTON — A retired New York City Police Department officer who was convicted of several felonies for attacking a D.C. cop with a flag pole on Jan. 6 and then tackling the officer to the ground and attempting to rip off his gas mask was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on Thursday.
Thomas Webster was sentenced by Judge Amit P. Mehta to the longest sentence yet in a Jan. 6 case.
Webster, 56, was convicted by a jury 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 .”
Mehta said Webster was “the first aggressor” in his confrontation with the D.C. police officer, and “all hell broke loose” on the police line when Webster showed up at that part of the police line.
“Nothing can explain or justify Mr. Webster’s rage,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Hava Arin Levenson Mirell told the judge. “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,” the federal prosecutor said, saying 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 “instigated violence” and was clearly anticipating a violent clash.
The Justice Department argued, as 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 who Webster assaulted to have invited Webster to fight him, the prosecutor said.
The arguments that Webster and his team made “could not be more at odds with his testimony,” Mehta said.
“I take no pleasure in doing this,” Mehta said when imposing the sentence, saying that 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 earlier this week that he suffered from PTSD from his career as a police officer and blamed his actions on Jan. 6, in part, on “flashbacks.”