Veteran NYPD cop convicted of assaulting officer during Capitol riot

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal jury on Monday convicted a New York Police Department veteran of assaulting an officer during United States Capitol Riotdismissing his claim that he was defending himself when he tackled the officer and grabbed his gas mask.

Thomas Webster, a 20-year veteran of the NYPD, was the first Capitol Riot accused to stand trial for assault and the first to present a case of self-defense to a jury.

Webster, 56, testified that he was trying to protect himself of a “rogue cop” who punched him in the face. He also accused Metropolitan Police Department officer Noah Rathbun of fomenting the confrontation.

Rathbun testified that he did not hit or choose a fight with Webster as a violent mob attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021, preventing Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election over then-President Donald Trump.

Webster’s jury trial was the fourth for a Capitol riot case. The first three defendants to obtain a jury trial were convicted on all counts in their respective indictments. A judge decided two other cases without a jury, acquitting one of the defendants and partially acquitting the other.

A grand jury indicted Webster on six counts, including a charge of assaulting Rathbun with a dangerous weapon, a metal flag pole. Webster was not charged with entering the Capitol on January 6.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jurors deliberated Monday in the federal trial of a New York Police Department veteran accused of assaulting an officer who was trying to protect the Capitol from a crowd of attacking insurgents Last year.

Thomas Webster, a 20-year veteran of the NYPD, is the first Capitol riot defendant to stand trial for assault and the first to present a case of self-defense to a jury.

Jurors heard closing arguments from lawyers on Friday and returned home for the weekend about 30 minutes after receiving the case. They returned to court on Monday morning.

Webster’s jury trial, which started April 26, is the fourth for a riot case at the Capitol. The first three defendants to obtain a jury trial were convicted on all counts in their respective indictments. A judge decided two other non-jury cases, acquitting one of the defendants and partially acquitting the other after bench trials.

Webster, 56, is accused of assaulting Metropolitan Police Department Constable Noah Rathbun with a dangerous weapon, a metal flag pole, during the January 6, 2021 riot.

Videos show Webster swinging his metal pole at police, charging Rathbun, then grabbing the officer’s gas mask with both hands.

Webster testified Thursday that he was trying to protect himself from Rathbun after the officer punched him in the face. Webster also accused Rathbun of making a hand gesture that Webster perceived as an invitation to fight.

Rathbun testified that he did not hit or look for a fight with Webster. Rathbun’s body camera captured Webster shouting profanity and insults before they made physical contact. Rathbun said he was trying to push Webster back from a security perimeter that he and other officers were struggling to maintain.

Prosecutors urged jurors to reject Webster’s self-defense argument and find him guilty on all six counts in his indictment.

Webster, who lives near Goshen, New York, retired from the NYPD in 2011. He served in the US Marine Corps from 1985 to 1989 before joining the NYPD in 1991.

The violent Jan. 6 mob, loyal to then-President Donald Trump, stormed the Capitol in an effort to overthrow the 2020 presidential election, undermine national democracy and prevent Democrat Joe Biden to replace the Republican in the White House.

More than 780 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riots. The Justice Department says more than 245 of them have been charged with assaulting or obstructing law enforcement.

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