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Buffalo man charged with stealing radio, badge from D.C. officer pulled into crowd during Capitol riot

D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone struggles as pro-Trump rioters attack him on the Capitol steps during a clash at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress. (Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS)

Authorities on Friday arrested a man accused of ripping the badge and radio from a D.C. police officer after rioters pulled him into a manic crowd and beat him unconscious during the Jan. 6. insurrection at the Capitol.

Thomas F. Sibick was taken into custody in his home city of Buffalo and later freed to home incarceration at his father’s residence following a hearing in federal court. Authorities said he buried the badge in his backyard.

Sibick is to make an appearance in federal court in the District on Tuesday. He faces charges that include entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct, obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder and taking something of value by force. His age was not provided in court papers.

The suspect is the first to be charged in the attack on Officer Michael Fanone, one of a handful of D.C. officers who gave a public account of their experiences fighting off the mob that stormed the Capitol seeking to overturn the 2020 election, which former president Donald Trump lost.

Police have not publicly identified others who pulled Fanone off a Capitol terrace, beat him with poles, Tasered him and tried to take his gun from his holster as he lay face-up on the ground. The arrest affidavit filed Friday says someone did take Fanone’s ammunition magazine that can hold 17 bullets.

Fanone, 40, a father of four daughters, told The Washington Post in January that he suffered a mild heart attack during the melee. In the crowd, people chanted “U.S.A,” and one person yelled, “We got one! We got one! Kill him with his own gun!”

The FBI said in the court affidavit that agents identified Sibick from videos he posted on Instagram of himself outside the Capitol, which were confirmed by two people who know him. Authorities say that in one video, Sibick says, “Just got tear-gassed, but we’re going, baby, we’re going! We’re pushing forward now!”

How D.C. police made a stand against the Capitol mob

Authorities published photos in the affidavit from video taken from Fanone’s body camera that they say shows Sibick standing over the officer, and others that show his badge and radio being ripped from his tactical vest. Authorities also included a photo of Sibick holding a riot shield that had been taken from a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

According to the arrest affidavit, Sibick told the FBI on Jan. 27 that he had been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and saw a D.C. police officer being pulled down the steps and struck with a flagpole. He told agents that he saw other officers being beaten, as well, and that people tried to take one of their firearms. He also said he heard someone say, “Get his gun and kill him.”

Sibick told the FBI he attempted to pull the officer to safety but was afraid for his life and decided to leave, according to the affidavit.

In a subsequent interview, the affidavit says, Sibick “admitted to grabbing the officer’s badge and radio” but told agents he was trying to help the officer.

Sibick told the FBI that Fanone’s badge came off in his hand as he reached for him, and that he pressed an orange emergency button on the radio to summon help. Authorities said records were erased when police deactivated the radio upon learning it had been stolen.

Sibick initially told the FBI he dropped the badge and radio and left, according to the affidavit.

But the FBI said Sibick later said he had taken the badge and radio to his home in Buffalo and had planned to return them to the FBI but got scared he would be arrested. Authorities said Sibick told them he threw the items into a dumpster.

The FBI said Sibick changed his story again, telling the FBI he buried Fanone’s badge in his backyard. The affidavit says Sibick turned over a bag containing Fanone’s muddied badge — No. 3603 — to the FBI.

Alexander J. Anzalone, a federal public defender who represented Sibick at his hearing in Buffalo, declined to comment.

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The Jan. 6 insurrection

The report: The Jan. 6 committee released its final report, marking the culmination of an 18-month investigation into the violent insurrection. Read The Post’s analysis about the committee’s new findings and conclusions.

The final hearing: The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol held its final public meeting where members referred four criminal charges against former president Donald Trump and others to the Justice Department. Here’s what the criminal referrals mean.

The riot: On Jan. 6, 2021, a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. Five people died on that day or in the immediate aftermath, and 140 police officers were assaulted.

Inside the siege: During the rampage, rioters came perilously close to penetrating the inner sanctums of the building while lawmakers were still there, including former vice president Mike Pence. The Washington Post examined text messages, photos and videos to create a video timeline of what happened on Jan. 6. Here’s what we know about what Trump did on Jan. 6.