Ex-NYPD officer gets the longest sentence yet for Jan. 6 attack


Ex-NYPD officer gets the longest sentence yet for Jan. 6 attack, A retired New York City police officer was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday for attacking a Washington officer with a metal flagpole during the attack on the Capitol on January 6. This is the harshest term handed down so far in a case related to the unrest.

Retired officer Thomas Webster was the first of those charged in connection with the riot to assert self-defense in court. In May, he was found guilty of all of the felony accusations against him.

District of Columbia United States District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta told Mr. Webster on Thursday, “I think you were caught up in a moment, and as you well know, even being caught up in a moment has consequences.”

On Thursday, another guy charged in the brawl on January 6 pled guilty to using pepper spray to assault police. In a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, a man from Somerset, New Jersey named Julian Elie Khater pled guilty to two felony offenses related to an assault on Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick that occurred last year.

As the mob plowed past the police, who had taken cover behind bike rack barriers on the west side of the Capitol, Mr. Khater, 33, was accused of collaborating with a friend, George Tanios, to douse Officer Sicknick with chemical spray. After the incident, it was reported that Officer Sicknick had died from his wounds, however, an examination revealed that he had really died of natural causes due to numerous strokes.

The maximum sentence for Mr. Khater is eight years in prison. Counsel representing Mr. Khater, Joe Tacopina, stated that it would be “improper to comment at this time” because of the impending sentencing.

On Thursday, we called Mr. Webster’s attorney, James E. Monroe, but he did not return our call.

Nearly 20 months after the incident on January 6, 2021, which sparked a massive criminal investigation by the Justice Department, Mr. Webster was sentenced and Mr. Khater pleaded guilty. More than 800 people were arrested in connection with the violence, and prosecutors have begun the long process of trying them all.

Mr. Webster received the longest sentence of any criminal who has gone to trial or reached a plea bargain to date. Thomas Robertson, another former police officer and Army veteran who confronted police officers at the Capitol, and Guy Wesley Reffitt, the first defendant to go to trial in the attack on the Capitol, had the heaviest sentence of seven years and three months until Thursday.

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The jury in Mr. Webster’s trial earlier this year found him guilty after deliberating for about two hours on the first full day of the trial. Mr. Webster handed himself into authorities last year. He is a former Marine who served on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City’s protective detail. On January 6, he sparked a brawl that stood out even among the hours of violent film from that day, and his life as a retired police officer took a dramatic turn for the worst.

Mr. Webster can be seen on camera footage emerging from the throng and yelling obscenities at the police officers stationed at the barricade. After repeatedly pushing against the barricades, he finally breaks through the police line and tackles Officer Noah Rathbun while swinging a flagpole at him. Twitter users have dubbed Mr. Webster the “EyeGouger” hashtag.

Mr. Webster gave the jury a different narrative, claiming that Officer Rathbun had waved at him to provoke him before punching him like a “freight train.”

But the prosecution claimed the video evidence disproved that version of events.

Evidently, Mr. Webster was swept up in weeks of online accusations that the election had been stolen, a lie fanned by former President Donald J. Trump that launched a movement that shattered democratic norms and interrupted the peaceful transfer of power, as shown by the evidence in the case.

Many in the audience on January 6 vocally supported the police, but scores were ultimately charged with attacking cops, a startling paradox that was remarked on during Mr. Webster’s weeklong trial. As a result of his heavy sentence, other defendants who were considering using similar arguments in their own trials may rethink doing so.

Mr. Webster said earlier this year that his attack on a fellow law enforcement officer “was almost like a role reversal.”

When asked to elaborate, he said, “I felt like I was the cop and he was the protester.”

While Mr. Webster had served his country as a Marine and a police officer, Judge Mehta told him on Thursday that he “blew it all up in 46 seconds.”

The rioter who pled guilty on Thursday, Mr. Khater, allegedly attended Mr. Trump’s rally near the Ellipse and then joined the pro-Trump crowd in the Capitol. According to the Justice Department, Mr. Tanios’s friend brought bear spray and pepper spray for their trip to the nation’s capital.

Prosecutors claim that Mr. Khater, who was carrying at least one can of pepper spray, approached the barriers protecting the bike racks. Prosecutors claim that as the crowd ripped the barriers aside, Mr. Khater came within eight feet of Capitol officers and sprayed Officer Sicknick in the face with pepper spray.

According to a statement released by the Justice Department, Mr. Khater “continued to use the spray” as he approached other Capitol Police officers, spraying two of them squarely in the face.

The police agency reported that all three officers had been physically injured by the pepper spray attack and were thereafter unable to do their jobs.

In March of 2021, both Mr. Khater and Mr. Tanios were taken into custody. Mr. Tanios, who made his own arrangement with prosecutors and pled guilty to misdemeanors in July, will be sentenced on December 6. On December 13, Mr. Khater will be given his sentence.