Isn’t it funny how the same rules cops apply to everyone else suddenly no longer apply when they’re in trouble?
Case in point: a former member of the NYPD who’s currently on trial for assaulting an officer during the Jan. 6 insurgency at the U.S. Capitol is arguing in court that it was the officer he assaulted that started the whole thing.
A lawyer for Thomas Webster, the Trump-supporting ex-officer now facing six federal charges, says it was self defense when his client tried to hit a D.C. Metropolitan Police officer, Noah Rathbun, with a flagpole and tackled him, even though Rathbun was on-duty and trying to stop a violent crowd that Webster was a part of.
There’s no doubt that Webster was part of the crowd that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6; there’s video of him there. NBC News reported it like this:
Video played during opening arguments on Tuesday shows Webster pushing a barricade and swinging a metal flagpole at an officer before tackling him to the ground, choking the officer with his gas mask.
But James E. Monroe, Webster’s attorney, told jurors that the officer struck Webster and “started this whole thing.” Monroe claimed that the officer’s use of force as a mob pushed against the barricades was inappropriate, and said his client was upset by the force used against members of the mob of thousands who had already passed a barricade and were unlawfully present on the restricted grounds of the U.S. Capitol during a riot.
“This case is built on the lies of a young officer from the Metropolitan Police Department,” Monroe alleged.
Gasp! A case built on the lies of a police officer? Somehow it feels like Webster must be speaking from experience. How else to explain that a career cop would think self-defense would be his get-out-of-jail-free card for assaulting another cop? Based on the fates of the other Capitol rioters who have gone to trial, it’s unlikely Webster gets off. Everyone else in his situation to date has been found guilty. But don’t let that distract you from what’s really happening when a Trumpist, rioting cop calls another cop a liar and claims self-defense to save his own ass.
He’s only doing what he’s been taught works all along.
If there’s anything to be learned from Webster’s ridiculous defense–besides that he’ll say anything to spare himself some time in jail–it’s that the universal rule of American policing is that cops don’t think the rules they enforce on everyone else should ever apply to them. They believe this whether they’re still wearing the badge or they’ve left the force, like Webster, because it gets reinforced almost every time there’s an attempt to hold them accountable for violence or abuse of power.
Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend had every right to defend their home from intruders with a legal firearm but cops broke in and killed Taylor anyway, with no criminal consequences. Michael Brown died while walking down the street without a gun in his hand but Darren Wilson, the cop who killed him, was never charged. We don’t know yet why Christoper Schurr shot unarmed Patrick Lyoya in the back of his head, but how much of your salary would you bet that if he’s ever charged, Schurr’s defense sounds something like Monroe’s: he started it, and I had no choice but to kill him?
It was self-defense.