A federal jury on Monday convicted a New York Police Department veteran of assaulting an officer during the Capitol riot, rejecting his claim that he was defending himself when he tackled the officer and grabbed his gas mask. Thomas Webster, a 20-year NYPD veteran who retired in 2011, was the first Capitol riot defendant to be tried on an assault charge and the first to present a jury with a self-defense argument, the AP reports. Jurors deliberated for less than three hours before they convicted Webster of all six counts in his indictment, including a charge that he assaulted Metropolitan Police Department officer Noah Rathbun with a dangerous weapon, a metal flagpole
The assault charge alone is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, although sentencing guidelines likely will recommend a significantly shorter prison term. Webster, 56, testified that he was trying to protect himself from a "rogue cop" who punched him in the face. He also accused Rathbun of instigating the confrontation. Rathbun testified that he didn’t punch or pick a fight with Webster as a violent mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Two jurors who spoke to reporters after the verdict said videos capturing the assault on the officer from multiple angles were crucial evidence rebutting Webster's self-defense argument.
"I guess we were all surprised that he would even make that defense argument," said a juror who spoke on condition of anonymity. "There was no dissention among us at all. We unanimously agreed that there was no self-defense argument here at all." Another juror, said Webster's self-defense claim "just didn't stack up." US District Judge Amit Mehta is scheduled to sentence Webster on Sept. 2. Prosecutors asked for Webster to be detained, but the judge decided to let him remain free until his sentencing. Webster’s jury trial was the fourth for a Capitol riot case. The first three defendants to get a jury trial were also convicted of all charges.
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