WASHINGTON: Videos released under court order provide a chilling new look at the chaos at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, including body camera footage that shows a man charging at a police officer with a flagpole and tackling him to the ground.
Federal judges ordered the release of the videos after media organizations, including the media, went to court to request that the Department of Justice provide access. The videos are being presented as evidence in prosecutors’ cases against three men charged with assaulting police.
The new videos show a Marine Corps veteran and former New York City police officer wielding a flagpole as he attacks police, as well as rioters crushing another officer into a door as he screams in pain. Still another video shows a New Jersey man punching an officer in the head.
The release comes at a time when Republican lawmakers in Washington increasingly try to downplay the siege, portraying the breach of the Capitol as a mostly peaceful protest despite the shocking violence that unfolded.
Supporters of former President Donald Trump fought past police lines to storm the building and interrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s election win over Trump.
The Justice Department has brought hundreds of criminal cases against the rioters. This week, a man linked to the antigovernment Three Percenters extremist movement was indicted on a new charge that he brought a semi-automatic handgun with him to the Capitol.
Body camera video released in the case against former New York City policeman Thomas Webster shows the man holding a flagpole and shouting profanities at officers standing behind a metal barricade. Webster pushes the barricade and swings toward an officer with the flagpole. There’s a violent scuffle, the officer manages to take the flagpole away from the man, and Webster appears to tackle the officer to the ground.
Other images in court documents show Webster pinning the officer to the ground and grabbing at his face.
Webster’s lawyer wrote in court documents seeking his release from jail while he awaits trial that his client got upset when he saw police using pepper spray on the crowd. The lawyer, James Monroe, wrote that “as a former US Marine and a member of law enforcement, defendant’s moral instinct was to protect the innocent.”
Monroe said the officer provoked Webster by reaching across the barrier and punching him. The lawyer says Webster never actually struck the officer with the flagpole.
Other footage released in the case against Patrick McCaughey III, a Connecticut man charged with assault, show police wearing helmets and face shields gathered in a Capitol doorway as the crowd pushes aggressively forward and shouts at them.