His lawyer says he is a good man who lost his temper when he saw a policeman pushing protesters outside the United States Capitol and was then pushed and beaten by the same cop.
Prosecutors are contesting this account and want Thomas Webster kept behind bars.
They say the former retired and retired New York City police officer Goshen yelled obscenities at the police defending the Capitol, tackled an officer to the ground without any provocation and contributed to the violence escalated as a pro-Trump mob pushed and eventually stormed the metal barricades.
The lawyers and Webster are scheduled to appear before a federal judge on Tuesday for a hearing on Webster’s request to be released from prison after more than four months in detention. Webster has been held at various detention sites since he surrendered to the FBI in New Windsor on February 22.
Webster is one of 500 people arrested so far for their alleged roles in the January 6 uprising and one of 100 accused of assaulting police officers. Cases are pending in U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, against nine current and former residents of the Hudson Valley after prosecutors recently withdrew charges against a Rockland County man who had been the region’s 10th accused.
Five of the seven charges against Webster are felonies, including assaulting a police officer with a dangerous weapon. The attack, recorded on police body cameras and largely undisputed, allegedly began by waving a flag pole at him and hammering him on a barricade, which he then pushed aside to attack an officer and straddle him on the ground.
Webster’s attorney, James Monroe de Goshen, describes him in court documents as a 55-year-old father of three who attends church and poses no danger to the public or risk of absconding that would justify keeping him in prison. He called the attack a “momentary lack of restraint,” triggered by what Webster viewed as excessive use of force by the officer.
“As a former US Navy and law enforcement officer, the moral instinct of the accused was to protect the innocent,” Monroe wrote.
Unlike many other defendants, Webster is not charged with illegally entering Capitol Hill and disrupting Congress as he gathered to assert President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. According to his attorney’s account, Webster traveled to Washington alone to protest the 2020 election results, attended pro-Trump rallies on January 5 and 6, and caused no problems other than his skirmish of 15 seconds with the officer he assaulted.
“Webster never verbally threatened others or advocated political violence against the United States government before, during or after January 6,” Monroe wrote. “The accused also made no public statements celebrating the events of January 6 or suggested that he would never participate in similar actions again.”
He also questioned whether the thin aluminum pole brandished by Webster could be considered a dangerous weapon against a police officer wearing a bulletproof vest.
Prosecutors deny that the officer hit Webster and the idea that Webster was reacting to abuse from other protesters. Rather, they say he went to Washington “armed and ready for battle,” carrying his old Marines backpack, a gun, military-style packed lunches and his bulletproof vest issued by the US. police, which he wore to the Capitol.
The crowd he joined there was anything but peaceful, wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Hava Arin Levenson Mirell, disputing Monroe’s argument that police annoyed protesters by firing pepper spray and guns on them. teargas. Mirell said the scene “was nothing less than a war zone”.
Photos included in court documents show a crowded crowd with Trump flags and American flags, pushing against metal barriers as outnumbered police officers struggled to hold the gates in place. Webster stood in front.
The officer he attacked pushed Webster and other protesters because that’s what he was ordered to do: move the protesters away from the barricades, the prosecutor wrote. Mirell argued that Webster, far from being an advocate for the innocent, was instrumental in getting the crowd to cross the police line.
“It was not until the accused came out of the crowd and started hitting the barricade that chaos ensued, rioters broke through the barricade and officers were forced to retreat,” wrote Mirell.
Webster reportedly grabbed the officer’s gas mask and helmet while on top of him, preventing the officer from breathing for 10 seconds because his chin strap was choking him.
The prosecutor argued that Webster had proved he was “unable to control his rage” and called his conduct “significantly more violent and disturbing” than that of other riot suspects who remain in custody.
“His inability to accept responsibility for his actions speaks volumes about his willingness to engage in similar conduct in the future.”