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Amherst man accused in D.C. riots back in federal custody

Posted at 5:27 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 17:30:59-04

In a 26-page Memorandum in Support of Detention, federal prosecutors spell out why they believe 35-year-old Thomas Sibick of Amherst should be in federal custody over home confinement.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell agreed. She overturned a Buffalo judge’s home confinement ruling, and ordered Sibick be detained in Washington D.C. pending his trial.

Sibick’s charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors for his involvement in the assault on a metro police officer during the riots at the U.S. capitol on January 6. The officer was dragged down capitol steps into a mob of rioters tased, threatened, and beaten and had to be hospitalized for his injuries.

According to court documents, Sibick stole the officer’s badge and radio. Court documents show still images taken from the officer’s body camera as evidence of Sibick’s alleged involvement.

Federal prosecutors said he also lied about his actions to the FBI before ultimately admitting he buried the officer’s badge in his backyard.

Court documents also said Sibick bragged about his involvement in the riots and posted a photo of him holding a police riot shield “like a trophy.”

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“What this defendant did was he didn’t help the officer. He stole his badge. He stole his radio, which was his lifeline to call for help. His conduct on January 6, was to put it bluntly, lawless,” Chief Judge Howell said during the virtual hearing.

Sibick’s public defenders disagree. They said he was trying to help the officer to safety, and even called for help using the officer’s radio. His attorneys said he only lied to the FBI because he was scared.

“I don’t buy that excuse at all,” the chief judge said.

Chief Judge Howell said the evidence shows Sibick clearly participated in the riots although he may be wishing he didn’t now.

Under federal law, there are four statutory factors a judge considers when determining detainment: nature and circumstances of the offense, evidence of alleged crime, defendant’s history and characteristics and whether the suspect is a danger to the community

Chief Judge Howell said all of the factors weighed in favor of detention.

Neither federal prosecutors or Sibick’s attorneys were available for comment. If convicted, Sibick faces 15 years in federal prison.