Prosecutors Ask for 17-Year Jail Sentence for Vet Who Assaulted a Cop with Marine Corps Flag on Jan. 6

Thomas Webster at a barricade line at on the west front of the U.S. Capitol
This still frame from Metropolitan Police Department body worn camera video shows Thomas Webster, in red jacket, at a barricade line at on the west front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (Metropolitan Police Department via AP, File)

Federal prosecutors have asked that a former Marine and retired New York Police Department officer receive a 17-year sentence for his actions during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 -- actions that included him assaulting another police officer with a Marine Corps flagpole he had brought along.

Thomas Webster, 56, was one of the first people to be charged for his role in the violence the day Congress was set to certify the results of the presidential election. He was arrested on six charges on Feb. 21, 2021. He was found guilty on all counts -- all but one were felonies -- on May 2, 2022.

Prosecutors say Webster showed up in Washington, D.C., "armed and ready for battle."

Read Next: Army Changing How It Inspects Barracks as Bragg Troops Are Evacuated from Moldy Housing

"Not only did he pack his NYPD-issued bulletproof vest, but he also packed his 'off duty' firearm ... [and] his military-issued rucksack containing Meals Ready-to-Eat, water bottles, and Gatorade," they state in a sentencing memo.

Confronted by police, Webster challenged Metropolitan Police Department Officer Noah Rathbun to a fight before breaking through the police barricade, tackling Rathbun to the ground and choking him.

As Webster awaits sentencing, prosecutors have asked for 210 months -- 17.5 years -- of jail time for the former Marine and cop "for disgracing a democracy that he once fought honorably to protect and serve."

If the judge grants the request, which prosecutors noted was "at the low end" of the guidelines, Webster will receive the longest sentence handed down to a Capitol rioter to date.

In early August, a judge sentenced Guy Wesley Reffitt, the first defendant to go on trial for the Jan. 6 attack, to more than seven years in prison.

According to the sentencing memo submitted by prosecutors Wednesday, Webster "served honorably" in the Marine Corps from 1985 to 1989, then went on to become a New York police officer from 1991 to 2011. These years of experience, prosecutors wrote, "render his violent assault of Officer Rathbun more troubling." reached out to the Marine Corps to verify Webster's service history but did not hear back in time for publication.

"Notwithstanding his background and training, Webster did not try to de-escalate the situation or leave the premises," prosecutors wrote. "Instead, he led the charge."

Body camera footage shows Webster approaching the barricade set up by officers and pointing to Rathbun, calling him a "f---ing piece of s---" and a "commie."

Webster then swung the metal flagpole he was carrying, complete with a red flag with the Marine Corps' eagle, globe and anchor emblem, at Rathbun "with enough force to break the metal pole in half."

"As Officer Rathbun retreated backward toward the inauguration stage, Webster crouched down, charged directly at [him], and tackled him to the ground," the sentencing memo reads.

The former Marine and cop then dragged Rathbun "by his helmet, pinned him to the ground, and tried to rip off his gas mask," choking him. Images included in the court documents show Webster standing over the officer while he sits on the Capitol grounds, with both of his hands tightly over Rathbun's gas mask.

"During his testimony, Webster called Officer Rathbun a 'rogue cop,' and questioned Officer Rathbun's training, integrity, and professionalism," prosecutors said.

The Washington Post reported that it took the jury around three hours to return guilty verdicts on all counts.

According to data from the George Washington University Program on Extremism, Webster is one of more than 100 defendants with military service arrested for their actions during the Jan. 6 riot. With more than 800 total people charged, that means about 12% have some kind of military background.

Although veterans are represented at proportional levels among the total arrests from the violent breach that day, they make up a far greater percentage of people facing some of the most serious charges.

Five of the 11 members of the Oath Keepers indicted on sedition charges for the riot are veterans. Nearly all of the five members of the Proud Boys extremist group also indicted for seditious conspiracy are veterans.

Webster is set to be sentenced Sept. 1.

-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.

Related: Marine Veteran Is the Latest Arrest as Jan. 6 Prosecutions Continue

Story Continues