A retired New York policeman who was once part of the City Hall Security Service was accused on Tuesday of assaulting a policeman with a metal pole during the pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill on January 6.
The former officer, Thomas Webster, served in a unit of the New York Police Department that provided security for the mayor, Gracie Mansion and City Hall, according to a law enforcement official. He retired from the force in 2011.
Mr Webster, 54, a former Marine, surrendered to the FBI on Monday and was charged with six counts relating to the attack on an officer in the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC, and his participation in the violent attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the presidential election.
A federal prosecutor said there were videos of Mr. Webster attacking the Washington officer, first with a metal pole that had previously displayed a Marine Corps flag, and then with his bare hands.
According to court documents, after the officer moved the flagpole away from Mr. Webster’s flag, the former Marine tackled the officer, pinned him to the ground, straddled him and attempted to rip his screen off him face and gas mask – an attack that left the officer. unable to breathe.
“These videos shock the conscience”, declared the prosecutor, Benjamin A. Gianforti. He said Mr. Webster showed a total lack of compassion and pursued the officer he attacked “like a dump dog”. The government did not immediately identify the officer.
Among the most serious charges Mr. Webster faces is the forcible assault of a United States agent with a dangerous weapon, carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Appearing virtually before a federal magistrate in White Plains, New York, Mr. Webster did not dispute that he appeared in three separate videos of the attack recorded on January 6.
Mr Webster’s attorney, James Monroe, said his client went to Capitol Hill to participate in a legal protest because he viewed the election as unfair. The lawyer said Mr. Webster acted in self-defense after the officer hit him.
“He went there as a US citizen to protest, an event that was urged by our former president – to protest an issue that was of great concern to Tom,” he said. “It protects the Constitution.”
Mr Gianforti said he had not seen any evidence on the videos that Mr Webster was beaten by the officer prior to the assault.
Mr. Webster, who is married with three children, owns a landscaping company in Florida, New York, about 65 miles from New York City called Semper Fi Landscape and Design – named after the motto of the Marine Corps. He has never been arrested before.
He surrendered nearly seven weeks after the riot on Capitol Hill and nearly a month after the FBI posted photos of him online and said he was seeking the public’s help in identifying him.
In court proceedings Tuesday, Judge Andrew E. Krause agreed with the prosecutor that the videos he had seen of Mr Webster’s actions were shocking.
Justice Krause acknowledged that prior to January 6, Mr. Webster was a model citizen and said he found it a difficult case. But he said Mr. Webster’s “proud and impressive record” as a public servant made the video of his attack on the officer all the more heartbreaking.
Eventually, the judge said the “current of political hostility” which seemed to have led a person with a previously exemplary life to act violently had not dissipated, and Mr. Webster could still be seen as a threat to him. public safety. He ordered his detention without bond pending another hearing.
In another case related to the January 6 riot, a Republican Party district leader in Queens – who called himself on Facebook “the Republican messiah” – was accused Tuesday of being among the rioters who broke into Capitol.
District chief Philip Grillo was captured by surveillance video entering the Capitol through a shattered window, according to court documents. He faces charges of entering a restricted building and interfering with the conduct of government business.
Mr. Grillo, 46, was arrested Monday at his girlfriend’s home in Glen Oaks, Queens. He was released on unsecured $ 100,000 bail, with travel limited to New York, Long Island and Washington in order to appear in court.
Mr. Grillo, a proud supporter of Mr. Trump, referred on his Facebook page to the 24th Assembly District where he is the leader of the local Republican Party as “President Trump’s hometown district.” He appeared virtually before a federal magistrate in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
District leaders are unpaid party officials who help register party members, recruit candidates, and ensure their parties are represented on polling sites on election day.
Eric Ulrich, a Republican member of the New York City Council representing a district south of Mr. Grillo in Queens, said he was genuinely shocked and disappointed by the allegations.
“If the accusations he faces are proven to be true, then he must be held accountable,” Mr. Ulrich said. “Anyone who was involved in the insurgency must be held responsible.”
William K. Rashbaum and Troy Closson contributed reporting.