- Thomas Webster appeared in court Tuesday over charges he assaulted a police officer.
- Webster is a former member of the New York Police Department.
- Prosecutors accuse him of using a flagpole to attack an officer at the January 6 US Capitol riot.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
A former member of the New York Police Department appeared in court Tuesday to face charges that he assaulted a police officer with a dangerous weapon during the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.
According to a criminal complaint, Thomas Webster, who was arrested Monday, was carrying a metal flagpole with a US Marine Corps flag on it when he began verbally harassing a member of the Metropolitan Police Department, declaring him a “commie” and a “piece of shit.”
Then, prosecutors say, Webster shoved a metal gate into the man and then lunged at him, “striking at the officer with the flagpole numerous times.”
“You can see him ripping the officer’s protective gear off, the gas mask or the helmet that he was wearing at the time, which … caused the police officer to choke. It cut off his air at least for a short period of time,” Assistant US Attorney Benjamin Gianforti said Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.
The actions were caught on body camera footage. Prosecutors say Webster can also been seen on a YouTube video in restricted grounds at the US Capitol. “Send more patriots,” the man in the video states. “We need some help.”
Webster, who runs a landscaping company, was identified with screenshots from the video by an administrator at his children’s high school, according to the complaint.
If convicted, he could face more than a decade behind bars.
Webster is currently being held without bail until his next court appearance on March 3, with US Magistrate Judge Andrew E. Krause calling the video footage he reviewed “disturbing” and “well beyond First Amendment speech.”
His lawyer, James Monroe, said he intends to plead not guilty.
More than 250 people have now been charged in connection with the violence on January 6.
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