WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal judge refused Friday to order the release of man who insists he was only trying to help when he stole a police officer’s badge and radio during the Jan. 6 insurrection while the officer was getting assaulted by a group of rioters.
Footage from D.C. Police Officer Mike Fanone's body-worn camera shows Thomas Sibick, of New York, using his left hand to pull off Fanone's badge and his right hand to pull off the officer’s radio. Fanone, who had a large tear in his vest from Sibick tearing off his badge, was dragged down the Capitol steps, shocked with a stun gun and beaten — causing him to suffer a mild heart attack and concussion.
“He may have been helpful at the nursing home, he may have been helpful in the jail, he may be a helpful human being — but he was not helpful on Jan. 6,” U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said, referencing the scores of letters that came in on Sibick’s behalf, attesting to his character. Sibick, who has a master's degree in business administration, has asked in lockup to be kept away from the other Jan. 6 defendants in a solitary cell.
Sibick wept in the courtroom on Friday, surrounded by his brothers and mother, as his defense attorney Stephen Brennwald claimed that the radio and badge came off as Sibick was trying to pull Fanone to safety. Undercutting Brennwald's claim that Sibick was trying to use the radio to call for help for the police officer, however, prosecutors note that Sibick didn’t press the emergency button until 17 minutes later.
Before Sibick pressed the button, he had time to pose with a stolen riot shield, Jackson pointed out.
“Yes, and that’s not a good look,” Brennwald agreed.
Brennwald presented another video Friday but failed to sway Judge Jackson that it casts reasonable doubt as to whether Sibick was intentionally stealing the items and assaulting the officer.
"I just do not accept the representation that that video changes anything or shows anything different,” Jackson said. “He took his own unique, independent, purposeful action.”
Jackson also pointed out that Sibick repeatedly lied about what he did. He initially told the FBI that he was trying to help the officer, then in a second interview told the FBI that he didn’t participate in the assault on Fanone. After the incriminating video was released, Sibick then said that he did participate but was just trying to help.
What’s more, Jackson said, Sibick lied about what he did with the badge and radio: first telling the FBI that he threw them away, then telling them that he took them home and put them in a dumpster, and then when agents wanted to check the security footage of the dumpster, he said he buried the badge in his backyard.
Sibick will remain in jail until his trial.
Also on Friday, Leonard Ridge, a 19-year-old from Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to his role in the riot. Ridge was turned in by a couple of his friends after Ridge sent them Snapchat videos from inside the Capitol.
“Yeah just stormed the US capital for the first time in U.S. history and I was a part of it,” Ridge messaged to a friend. “Yeah man so epic I have a video of me fighting riot police in the capital building.”
Ridge could face up to six months in prison after pleading guilty to entering a restricted building.
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