A retired New York City cop and U.S. Marine wanted for allegedly assaulting a Washington, D.C., police officer with a metal flagpole during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot has surrendered on federal charges.
Thomas Webster, 54, who once provided security for New York mayor and City Hall, according to news reports, turned himself in Monday on six counts related to the beating of the officer captured on body camera footage during the pro-Trump insurrection, according to a federal complaint.
Webster was brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Krause in White Plains, who reportedly expressed shock at video of the assault. He declared Webster may still be a threat to public safety and ordered him jailed without bail pending another hearing. The most serious charge ― forcible assault of an officer of the U.S. with a dangerous weapon ― carries a maximum of 20 years in prison if he’s convicted.
The video footage appears to show Webster, who’s from the upstate New York town of Florida, first verbally berating the officer, who stands behind a metal gate, and then physically lunging at him with the pole and then his bare hands.
“You fucking piece of shit. You fucking Commie motherfuckers,” Webster tells the officer, according to the complaint. “Come on, take your shit off. Take your shit off.”
Webster aggressively shoved the metal gate into the officer, then armed himself with a flagpole bearing a U.S. Marine Corps flag, which he used to strike the officer numerous times, knocking him to the ground, the complaint said. He then tried to yank off the officer’s face shield and gas mask, choking him with the chin strap, according to the complaint.
Webster’s surrender comes nearly a month after the FBI asked for public help in identifying him through photos. People on social media labeled him #EyeGouger because of the video showing his violent grip on the officer’s face. Dozens of others involved in the riot are being sought.
At Webster’s initial court appearance, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Gianforti reportedly described the charges against Webster as among the most serious he’s seen from the riot at the White Plains federal courthouse.
“He goes after that cop like a junkyard dog. Like I said, fists bared, teeth clenched,” Gianforti said, according to The New York Daily News.
Webster’s defense attorney portrayed him as a law-abiding citizen who came to the Capitol to demonstrate peacefully and acted in self-defense when the officer punched him, according to The New York Times.
“He 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,” attorney James Monroe, told the court. “That’s protecting the Constitution.”
The judge noted that until Jan. 6, Webster, a married father of three who owns a landscaping business, appeared to have a “proud and impressive record” as a public servant, according to the Times.
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter