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Newly released video shows former NYPD cop striking officer with flagpole during Capitol riot, DOJ says

D.C. Police body-camera footage shows Marine veteran and retired NYPD officer Thomas Webster scream profanities and attack officers during the Jan. 6 riot. (Video: U.S. Attorney’s Office)

A previously unpublished video of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 captures an alleged rioter wielding a flagpole brawling with a police officer as violence unfolded outside the building.

The Justice Department identified the man as Thomas Webster, 54, a Marine veteran and retired New York Police Department officer. The man screams profanities at officers, striking at least one with a flagpole before tackling him to the ground in a 56-second clip from the officer’s body camera, which was released Thursday. This is the second such video shared with more than a dozen news outlets that have sued for access to evidence gathered by the Justice Department and available to judges but not the public, CNN first reported.

Despite the attack on such a visible landmark, police body-camera footage, surveillance tapes from the Capitol complex and other videos are not widely accessible, as court cases have proceeded virtually during the pandemic. A number of Republicans have played down the insurrection, blocking an effort to form an independent commission that would investigate the riot.

Retired NYPD officer attacked D.C. police officer like ‘junkyard dog,’ prosecutor alleges

Webster faces seven federal charges, including assaulting police, unlawfully entering Capitol grounds with a dangerous weapon and engaging in physical violence.

James Monroe, an attorney representing Webster, declined to comment to The Washington Post after the video’s release.

A complaint filed against Webster includes stills from the body-cam footage and an FBI interview with the D.C. officer who said Webster had pinned him to the ground, straddled him and tried to take off his helmet and gas mask while choking him with the chin strap.

At the beginning of the video, Webster emerges from the crowd, wielding a Marine flag and calling officers communists. When one pushes him back, Webster lunges forward, shoving a metal barrier into the line of police.

An officer then grabs Webster’s flagpole from him. The alleged rioter charges toward him, tackling the officer in an outburst a prosecutor compared to that of “a junkyard dog.”

“We see what I would describe as a look of pure rage,” U.S. Attorney Benjamin Gianforti said in a February hearing. “His teeth are gritted. This is a man about to unleash some kind of violence.”

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During Webster’s first court appearance in February, Monroe said his client was only reacting to being punched by a police officer. But the prosecutor said 10 minutes of video before the violent encounter reviewed by investigators showed no such provocation.

“He’s never been in a shooting incident in his career,” Monroe argued. “This was the one and only protest he’s ever been a part of.”

Webster was identified by federal investigators in part because a school administrator of his child’s high school recognized him from regularly dropping off his child at school.

Webster was a New York police officer for two decades, at one point serving in Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s security detail, according to court filings.

At least 19 current or former members of law enforcement have been arrested in the investigation into Jan. 6, according to a review by The Post.

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