Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Gianforti announced on Tuesday that former New York Police Department officer Thomas Webster has been charged with assaulting an officer from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., during the Capitol riot.
Webster, who retired in 2011 and reportedly served in a unit that provided security at Gracie Mansion and City Hall, was caught on video allegedly attacking a Washington police officer with a metal flagpole, according to prosecutors. An ex-Marine, Webster’s aluminum pole had his branch’s flag fixed on it. Court documents state that after the officer took the pole from Webster’s hands, he tackled the officer and attempted to rip off his face shield and gas mask. Webster is facing six charges related to the attack, including obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder; knowingly entering a restricted area; disorderly conduct in a restricted area; engaging in physical violence in a restricted area; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. The most serious charge, the forcible assault of an officer of the United States with a dangerous weapon, carries a 20-year maximum penalty. “These videos shock the conscience,” Gianforti said, adding that Webster had pursued the officer “like a junkyard dog.”
Webster’s attorney, James Monroe, said that his client “went there as an American citizen to protest, an event that was urged on by our former president — to protest an issue that Tom felt very strongly about.” He was not the only law enforcement or military alumni who did so: More than two dozen off-duty cops were part of the insurrection, while one analysis from NPR suggests that one in five insurrectionists were veterans.
Also on Tuesday, a Republican figure in Queens, Philip Grillo, was charged with entering a restricted building and interfering with the conduct of government business after he was caught on camera allegedly entering the Capitol through a broken window. Grillo is the GOP’s district leader in Queens, an unpaid position designed to help with voter registration and candidate recruitment.