Retired NYPD officer charged at Capitol Riot

A retired New York police officer who was once part of the security detachment at City Hall was charged Tuesday with assaulting a police officer with a metal flagpole during the pro-Trump riot on Capitol Hill on 6 January.

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.

Webster, 54, a former Marine, surrendered to the FBI on Monday and was charged with six counts related to the attack on a Metropolitan Police Department officer in Washington, DC, and his involvement in the violent attempt to arrest to Congress. certifying the results of the presidential elections.

A federal prosecutor said there were videos of Webster attacking the Washington officer, first with a metal pole that had previously flown a Marine Corps flag, and then with his bare hands.

According to court documents, after the officer snatched the flagpole from Mr. Webster, the former Marine accosted the officer, pinned him to the ground, straddled him, and attempted to rip off his face shield and gas mask, an attack that left the officer unable to breathe.

“These videos shock the conscience,” said the prosecutor, Benjamin A. Gianforti. He said Webster had shown a complete lack of compassion and had pursued the officer he attacked “like a junk dog.” The government did not immediately identify the officer.

Among the most serious charges Mr. Webster faces is the forcible assault on a United States officer with a dangerous weapon, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Appearing virtually before a federal magistrate in White Plains, New York, Webster did not deny that he appeared in three separate videos of the attack recorded on January 6.

Webster’s attorney, James Monroe, said his client had traveled to the Capitol to participate in a legal protest because he believed the elections were unfair. The attorney said Webster had acted in self-defense after the officer hit him.

“He went there as an American citizen to protest, an event urged by our former president, to protest an issue that Tom was very interested in,” he said. “That is protecting the Constitution.”

Mr. Gianforti said that he had not seen any evidence in the videos that the officer had struck Mr. Webster prior to the assault.

Webster, who is married with three children, owns a landscaping business in Florida, NY, about 65 miles from New York City, called Semper Fi Landscape and Design, named for the motto of the Marine Corps. He had never been arrested before.

He turned himself in nearly seven weeks after the Capitol riots and about a month after the FBI posted photos of him online and said it 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 Webster’s actions were shocking.

Judge Krause acknowledged that prior to January 6, Webster had been 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 even more disturbing.

Ultimately, the judge said that the “undercurrent of political hostility” that appeared to have led a person with a previously exemplary life to act in a violent manner had not dissipated, and Mr. Webster could still be considered a security threat. public. He ordered that he be held without bail pending another hearing.

In another case related to the January 6 riot, a Republican Party district leader in Queens, who referred to himself on Facebook as “the Republican messiah,” was charged Tuesday with being among the rioters who stormed the Capitol.

According to court documents, the district leader, Philip Grillo, was captured on surveillance video entering the Capitol through a broken window. He faces charges of entering a restricted building and interfering with the conduct of government business.

Grillo, 46, was arrested Monday at his girlfriend’s home in Glen Oaks, Queens. He was released on an unsecured bond of $ 100,000, with his travel restricted to New York, Long Island and Washington for the purpose of appearing in court.

Grillo, a proud Trump supporter, on his Facebook page referred to the 24th assembly district, where he is the local leader of the Republican Party, as “President Trump’s hometown district.” He appeared virtually before a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

District leaders are unpaid party officials who help register party members, recruit candidates, and ensure that their parties are represented at polling places 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 charges he faces are proven to be true, then he must be held accountable,” Ulrich said. “Anyone who was involved in the insurrection must be held accountable.”

William K. Rashbaum and Troy Closson contributed reporting.

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