WASHINGTON — A former NYPD officer and Marine accused of assaulting police with a metal flagpole on January 6 will be released from custody while he awaits trial, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta heard arguments for and against the release of 54-year-old Thomas Webster, of New York, Tuesday afternoon. Despite finding Webster’s actions “indefensible,” Mehta nevertheless ordered him released to home detention.
Webster, who retired from the Marine Corps as a corporal before serving 20 years with NYPD – including in a uniformed detail for former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg – faces multiple charges in connection with the riot, including assaulting federal officers using a dangerous weapon, civil disorder and engaging in physical violence in a restricted grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon. The assault charge alone could carry up to 10 years in prison if Webster were to be convicted.
In opposition to Webster’s release, prosecutors read the judge a victim impact statement from a DC Police officer Webster is accused of assaulting on January 6.
“I remember when he charged… he pushed me to the ground and commenced to pull at my gas mask,” the statement said. “I began to choke.”
The officer wrote in his statement that he believed Webster was “going after my life.”
“He could have left my wife and two small children without a husband and a father,” the officer wrote.
In response to a request from WUSA9 and a coalition of other media outlets, the Department of Justice released video earlier this month appearing to show Webster repeatedly striking police with an aluminum flagpole, and then charging and tackling and officer when the pole breaks. In the video, Webster can be seen in a pitched struggle on top of an officer who was knocked to the ground.
In April, a federal magistrate judge ordered Webster held without bond pending trial. But after hearing the officer’s letter and Webster’s attorney’s arguments in support of his client, Mehta decided Tuesday to reverse that decision.
Mehta ordered Webster released on 24-hour house arrest with GPS monitoring. He will not be allowed to leave home to work or to visit family, and is ordered to stay off communication devices and social media. Mehta also warned Webster that if he committed any violation of his probation he would be returned to federal custody.
Webster’s next hearing is scheduled for August 31 at 1 p.m.
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