The acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police is testifying before Congress as lawmakers press for answers about intelligence failures that allowed thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump to storm the Capitol last month. (Feb 25)
A New York man charged in a vicious assault on a D.C. police officer during the deadly Capitol riot was ordered jailed pending trial, when an angry federal judge Tuesday declared the suspect’s alleged behavior as “just not acceptable.”
Thomas Sibick is accused of ripping the radio and badge from the tactical vest worn by Officer Michael Fanone, who was later pulled into a mob where he was battered and shocked with a stun gun by rioters who attempted to take his service weapon.
After allegedly lying to the FBI multiple times about his involvement in the attack, Sibick last month surrendered Fanone’s mud-smeared badge, which the suspect had allegedly buried in the backyard of his Buffalo home.
“The defendant’s conduct is on video tape,” an incredulous U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell said, referring to Sibick’s actions during the riot. “Such egregious conduct…and no remorse.
“His conduct on Jan. 6, to put it bluntly, was lawless,” Howell said.
Howell’s ruling reverses a magistrate’s decision last week that allowed Sibick to remain free on home confinement in New York.
The judge issued an arrest warrant Tuesday and ordered that Sibick be transported to Washington where he will be held without bond.
Howell repeatedly cited Sibick’s alleged theft of the radio as denying the officer a “lifeline” as he was being beaten with a flag pole and while rioters shouted for him to be killed with his own weapon.
The officer survived the attack, later reporting that he suffered a mild heart attack.
The judge said the government had offered “overwhelming evidence” that supported the suspect’s detention.
“He was part of this violent assault on the Capitol in which people did lose their lives,” the judge said.
Alexander Anzalone, a federal public defender representing Sibick, argued that his client posed no continuing risk of violence while awaiting trial and pledged he would abide by any other restrictions imposed by the court that would allow the suspect to remain on home confinement.
The attorney said there was “no evidence” that Sibick served as a leader of the mob or engaged in any pre-planning. Anzalone also said that Sibick was not part of any of the extremist groups that participated in the assault, nor was he armed at the time.
“There is no evidence that Mr. Sibick is an ongoing danger,” Anzalone said.
But Howell contended that Sibick’s “enthusiastic participation” in the mob violence that day and his attempts to “obstruct” the investigation outweighed any argument for his release.
Referring to the government’s initial complaint, the judge said Sibick lied to FBI agents at least three times during the course of four interviews about his alleged actions on Jan. 6 and in the days immediately after involving his handling of the officer’s badge and radio.
When pressed by the FBI about several inconsistencies in his accounts, agents said a “distraught” suspect told agents Feb. 26 that he “wanted to do the right thing” and later delivered the officer’s muddy badge in a plastic bag after allegedly digging it out of his backyard.
Howell said Sibick’s prior criminal record of six convictions, some involving misdemeanor crimes, also did not argue in his favor. She appeared to take offense at Sibick’s initial claims to the FBI that he had attempted to pull the injured officer away from the mob.
“This defendant is no hero here,” the judge said.
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