A federal jury convicted Thomas Webster, a 20-year New York Police Department veteran, of assaulting an officer during the U.S. Capitol riot, rejecting his argument that he was defending himself when he tackled the officer and grabbed his gas mask, reports the Associated Press. Webster was the first Capitol riot defendant to be tried on an assault charge and the first to present a self-defense argument. Jurors deliberated for under three hours before they convicted Webster of all six counts, including a charge that he assaulted Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officer Noah Rathbun with a dangerous weapon, a metal flagpole.
Webster, 56, testified that he was trying to protect himself from a “rogue cop” who punched him in the face. He accused Rathbun of instigating the confrontation. Rathbun testified that he didn’t punch or pick a fight with Webster as a violent mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, disrupting Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory over then-President Trump. Two jurors who spoke after the verdict said videos capturing the officer’s assault from multiple angles were crucial evidence rebutting the self-defense argument. “I guess we were all surprised that he would even make that defense argument,” said one juror. “There was no dissention among us at all. We unanimously agreed that there was no self-defense argument here at all.”