Thomas Webster claims that a Metropolitan Police officer instigated the assault on January 6

Former NYPD officer Thomas Webster’s attorney suggested that a D.C. police officer “punched him in the face without provocation” during the Capitol riots.

WASHINGTON — A lawyer for a former New York Police Department officer asked jurors Tuesday to believe his client had been instigated to attack police on January 6 — indicating multiple times that a D.C. police officer punched Thomas Webster in the face prior to the assault.

Webster’s trial on multiple criminal charges began this week before US District Judge Amit B. Former officer and US Marine Corps veteran is accused of repeatedly hitting D.C. Police Officer Noah Rathbone with a metal pole before breaking through a barrier and dealing with him to the ground.

Apparently many jurors were shocked by Rathbone’s body-worn footage that shows an angry Webster in a red, black and white jacket pushing through the crowd outside the US Capitol to reprimand officers. The video shows Webster repeatedly pushing onto the racks of bikes the police were using as a custom barrier before swinging the shaft at one of them – Rathbone – who then manages to disarm him.

After the shaft is taken out of it, Webster can be seen advancing forward through the parapet with the other rioters and tackling Rathbone on the ground as he tries to remove his gas mask and helmet. Metropolitan Police Detachment. Jonathan Lauderdale, who has reviewed hundreds of hours of body-worn camera footage, including Rathbone, said Webster’s attack “strangled” Rathbone with his helmet’s chin strap.

The video of the confrontation lasts about a minute and a half, but Webster’s attorney, James E. Munro, focuses on a few frames that appear to show Rathbone’s hand touching Webster’s face in the corner of the video. Monroe also played a video from a second angle during his opening statement that claimed it showed Rathbone starting the confrontation – although this video appeared to show Webster pushing the bike rack barrier before any contact by Rathbone.

Monroe repeatedly asked Lauderdale if he knew or saw any notes from the FBI’s investigation into the use of force in Rathbone’s Jan. 6 call—the line of questioning Judge Mehta was eventually closed as inappropriate. Lauderdale said his role on the riot squad was to investigate possible criminal behavior of rioters, not conduct internal affairs investigations. He also said he wasn’t aware of the brief moment of footage that appeared to show a connection between Rathbun and Webster until before his testimony on Tuesday. But, he said, even if Rathbone called Webster on January 6, he couldn’t see how the Metropolitan Police officer, Munro suggested, was the instigator.

“I don’t see how he was responding to the Capitol about the mayor’s or the mayor’s order to defend democracy and stop what was happening, and how that started,” Lauderdale said.

Monroe continued to bash Lauderdale, however, about whether Rathbone reported any injuries from Webster’s attack—he didn’t—or whether he did report the use of force about the incident—as well. Lauderdale said that Metropolitan Police policy requires officers to notify the president if they have used force in the line of duty.

“What if you punch someone in the face without provocation?” Monroe asked.

“Yes,” Lauderdale said.

Even if he was aware of the contact Rathbun had with Webster’s face, Lauderdale said it would not have influenced his role in the investigation or his decision to release BOLO on Webster.

“There was clear video evidence of an assault on a police officer,” he said.

Prosecutors said they intended to summon Rathbone himself to the podium to testify on Wednesday. While Monroe was expected to challenge Rathburne over reports he provided—or did not provide—after the January 6th and FBI investigation into his use of force, Monroe was unlikely to be able to ask about the May 2021 shooting in which Rathbone shot. And 26-year-old Fido Hall was killed while Hall was holding his ex-girlfriend against her will with a rifle. Federal prosecutors declined to press charges against Rathbone in connection with the shooting, saying in a statement that there was insufficient evidence to show that he used excessive force under the circumstances.

Prosecutors, including Rathbone, said they had five witnesses to call on Wednesday and were likely to rest on Thursday. In a pretrial note, Monroe said he also had five witnesses to call, including three who would act as personal witnesses on Webster’s behalf.

We’re tracking all arrests, charges, and investigations into the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Subscribe to our site Capitol Breach Newsletter Here so you don’t miss an update.

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