Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.An alleged Capitol rioter was released to the custody of his parents Tuesday after a judge in the case said he was surrounded by the “toxic environment” of the D.C. jail holding dozens of January 6 defendants. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson granted the release of Thomas Sibick, a 35-year-old from Buffalo, after ruling that he didn’t present the same danger to the public that necessitated pretrial detention for other January 6 defendants.
Sibick was initially charged in April with several counts, including assaulting a police officer and robbery, stemming from his involvement in the Jan. 6 riot, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol to delay the certification of President Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election. During the riot, Sibick took the badge and radio of Capitol Police Officer Michael Fanone, who testified before Congress in July that Capitol rioters “tortured” him. Sibick’s attorney argued Tuesday that holding alleged Capitol rioters together in the D.C. jail bore the potential for a “radicalizing” experience, and described their behavior—which includes singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” every night at 9 p.m.—as “cult-like.” His attorney also said Sibick chose to go into solitary confinement rather than be in the jail’s general population.
As part of his appeal to be released into his parents’ custody, Sibick’s defense provided reports from D.C. corrections officers praising him for getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and being a “great help to the unit.” Sibick also wrote a letter to Jackson slamming Trump, saying that he now hates the former president. “January 6 was a disgrace to our nation that left a scar Trump is ultimately responsible for, but we are strong will heal from it,” Sibick wrote in the letter. “While many praise Trump, I loathe him.. His words and actions are nefarious, causing pain and harm to the world. He is not a leader and should be ostracized from any political future. What he honestly needs to do is go away!”As part of the condition of his release, Jackson told Sibick to stay out of Washington, D.C. ,and prohibited him from attending political rallies, using social media, and watching any cable news, including Fox News and MSNBC.
“You must not watch any political television programs,” Jackson told Sibick. “I don’t think they do much to help anybody right now.”