Capitol riot suspect who buried officer’s badge ordered to be returned to jail

A Buffalo, New York, man accused of ripping off the badge of a D.C. police officer who was beaten unconscious during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol was ordered Tuesday to be returned to jail.

A federal magistrate judge last week in Buffalo allowed Thomas Sibick to live with his parents until his trial on charges of assaulting or impeding law enforcement, obstruction of law enforcement, and taking from a person anything of value by force.

But U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell decided Tuesday that Sibick should return to jail, pending his trial, which has not been scheduled.

Prosecutors say Sibick lied about his involvement in the rioting and had buried the badge he took from the officer in his backyard.

According to prosecutors, Sibick changed his story several times about his involvement in the Capitol riot. Initially he told the FBI he wasn’t present, then eventually said he took the officer’s badge and radio to keep it safe.

During repeated questioning sessions, Sibick said he had dropped the badge and radio in a trash can on Constitution Avenue, then later said he had put them in a dumpster outside a Buffalo hotel.

Eventually, Sibick turned over to the FBI the officer’s muddy badge, which he had buried in his Buffalo backyard.

In their emergency motion to overturn the decision by Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr., granting pretrial release, prosecutors in D.C. said Sibick has shown no remorse for his involvement: “Mr. Sibick enthusiastically participated in the violent effort to enter the Capitol unlawfully and then bragged about it on social media — posting a picture of himself holding a riot shield like a trophy and a video of himself screaming into his camera, ‘Just got tear-gassed, but we’re going, baby, we’re going! We’re pushing forward now!'”

However, Sibick’s attorneys counter that he voluntarily self-surrendered to authorities, while providing them with the officer’s badge, in a plastic zip-close bag.

“He’s a scared man who according to the government’s own proffer turned over evidence he had buried in his backyard, hardly a dangerous mastermind,” wrote assistant federal public defenders Alexander Anzalone and Timothy Murphy.

They said Sibick is neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community, since there were no allegations he was involved in the planning or execution of the uprising.

“As your Honor observed last month, even when dealing with the enormity of the January
6th storming of the Capitol, each detention case must be evaluated on its own circumstances,” Sibick’s attorneys wrote.

WTOP’s Mitchell Miller contributed to this report.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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