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Police recount mayhem and 'attempted coup' in U.S. Capitol riot

WorldJul 27, 2021 05:10PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Police attempt to clear the U.S. Capitol Building with tear gas as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather outside, in Washington, U.S. January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo 2/2

By Richard Cowan and Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Four police officers on Tuesday told lawmakers they were beaten, taunted with racial insults, heard threats including "kill him with his own gun" and thought they might die as they struggled to defend the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 against a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters.

Often tearful, sometimes profane, the officers called the rioters "terrorists" engaged in an "attempted coup" during a 3-1/2 hour congressional hearing in which they also criticized Republican lawmakers who have sought to downplay the attack.

"I feel like I went to hell and back to protect the people in this room," said District of Columbia police officer Michael Fanone, referring to lawmakers. "The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful," Fanone added, slamming his hand onto the witness table.

It was a dramatic first hearing for a Democratic-led House of Representatives committee formed despite opposition by Trump's fellow Republicans to investigate the worst violence at the Capitol since the British invasion in the War of 1812.

Some Democrats have suggested Trump, who made an incendiary speech to supporters before the riot repeating false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud, be called to testify. The officers recounted how rioters fought on Trump's behalf, seeking to prevent Congress from formally certifying now-President Joe Biden's election victory.

"He himself helped create this monstrosity," Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell said of Trump as he described rioters wielding weapons including police shields, batons, sledgehammers, flag poles, Taser devices, chemical irritants, metal pipes, rocks, broken table legs and metal guard rails.

The officers urged lawmakers to determine what happened, including whether Trump or others helped instigate it.

"There was an attack carried out on Jan. 6, and a hit man sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that," Capitol police officer Harry Dunn said.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson and Republican panel member Liz Cheney warned against "whitewashing" a riot in which more than 535 people now face criminal charges, even as Trump allies portray the panel as politically motivated.

Cheney, stripped of her House Republican leadership post after denouncing Trump's election falsehoods, said she hopes the nation does not become so blinded by partisanship that "we throw away the miracle" of American democracy.

The committee, expected to explore questions about how the riot was organized and financed as well as law enforcement's lack of preparedness, heard the most detailed public account to date of what police encountered during the rampage. More than a hundred officers were injured by the hundreds of rioters.

Fanone said he was pulled into the crowd, beaten, shocked repeatedly with a Taser, robbed of his badge and knocked unconscious, suffering a heart attack. Fanone said he heard a rioter say "kill him with his own gun."

'MEDIEVAL BATTLEFIELD'

"What we were subjected to that day was like something from a medieval battlefield," Gonell said.

Dunn, who is Black, said rioters repeatedly called him a racial slur. Dunn said he challenged their claims that no one had voted for Biden by telling them that he had done so.

Gonell, a naturalized American citizen born in the Dominican Republican who served in the U.S. Army in Iraq, recalled rioters calling him a traitor who should be executed. Gonell said he thought to himself, "This is how I'm going to die."

Washington officer Daniel Hodges called the rioters "terrorists," citing the term's legal definition. He said they told him: "You will die on your knees!"

Hodges said many rioters appeared to be white nationalists. While his Black and Hispanic colleagues faced racial slurs, Hodges, who is white, said rioters tried to recruit him, asking, "Are you my brother?"

The rioters sent lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence scrambling for safety. Four people died on Jan. 6, including one rioter shot by police and three others who experienced medical emergencies. A policeman who was attacked by rioters died the following day. Two others later committed suicide.

"Some people are trying to deny what happened, to whitewash it, to turn the insurrectionists into martyrs," Thompson said. "And all of it for a vile, vile lie."

Democrats created the panel after congressional Republicans blocked formation of an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the riot. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy acted to prevent fellow Republicans from joining the panel after Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to seat two of his choices amid concerns they would undermine its integrity. Two Republicans picked by Pelosi are serving.

The Senate on Tuesday inched closer to approving around $900 million in emergency aid to bolster Capitol police funding and establish a "quick-reaction force" to respond to any future attacks, among other things.

During the hearing, Democrat Stephanie Murphy asked Hodges what he was fighting for as he confronted the rioters.

"Democracy," Hodges replied.

Police recount mayhem and 'attempted coup' in U.S. Capitol riot
 

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Comments (23)
Investing Man
Investing Man Jul 31, 2021 3:08PM ET
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It was sad to see republicans attack out beloved US capital. Seems only democrats love our country respect the leaders in it.
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Jul 27, 2021 9:58PM ET
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Sounds like how police were repeatedly treated by antifa and BLM rioters, just not quite as bad. Too bad Dems didn’t care then, but they were safe in Washington.
Pedro Trost
Pedro Trost Jul 27, 2021 7:30PM ET
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Attempted coup? Get real, do we live in a third world country now
Scott Thompson
Scott Thompson Jul 27, 2021 7:30PM ET
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Yes
Mox Mox
Mox Mox Jul 27, 2021 6:26PM ET
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When they shoot blacks they are 🐷. when they shot trump supporters they are oppressed freedom fighters...fakoff
partick adams
partick adams Jul 27, 2021 5:18PM ET
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A bunch of unarmed individuals including elderly women being able to overtake the Capitol Police/security is more an attestation to the incompetence of DC and politicians than anything...not surprising though, considering how incompetent they are with BLM/ANTIFA who have caused exponentially more damage and destruction including to federal buildings. They literally shot an unarmed veteran whose murder happened to be captured on video by a known leftist agitator. Her name was Ashley Babbitt. They have been holding many of these people captive for month while trying to find things to charge them with. The FBI is so desperate to try and politically persecute these people that they submitted a box of legos as evidence that they found in one of these people's homes. It is bad when even Putin is coming out pointing out that the US government is murdering unarmed political opponents and holding many hostage in prisons without charges.
partick adams
partick adams Jul 27, 2021 5:18PM ET
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Also could not fit this above, but note that one individual was charged and was given an 8 month prison sentence. The judge says that the harsh punishment should act to deter others from doing this again in the future. The judge actually wrote that. They are not even trying to hide that this is simply about political persecution and sending a message. Meanwhile, people in BLM/ANTIFA are being let go without any punishment for much worse. Leftists are such hypocrites because they pretend to be against judicial bias and persecutions, but really all they seek is to weaponize the system themself.
Golden Berg
goldenberg Jul 27, 2021 11:30AM ET
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Sure. And BLM/Antifa riots were just a sandbox games.
Adrian White
Adrian White Jul 27, 2021 11:30AM ET
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Jason, you do realize that all that happened under Trump, right? Nothing to do with the current "regime." You guys get so wound up in your propaganda that you start trying to rewrite history.
Rick Baier
Rick Baier Jul 27, 2021 10:29AM ET
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defund
Rick Baier
Rick Baier Jul 27, 2021 10:29AM ET
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Let's see art reporting the violence in all the cities. Wait it doesn't fit the narrative. How about 100 people shot and killed in Chicago over the July 4th weekend. Report on all the working families fleeing those refund the police states.
Mad Money
Mad Money Jul 27, 2021 10:16AM ET
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Blue lives dont matter when its your own party at fault?
Picaso Fish
Picaso_Fish Jul 27, 2021 10:16AM ET
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Now your getting it! To be honest lives probably never mattered to them. It's about the $$$ baby
one two
one two Jul 27, 2021 10:16AM ET
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no police officers died jan 6 but keep spreading misinformation
Adrian White
Adrian White Jul 27, 2021 10:16AM ET
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it doesn't matter whether any police died on that day or not to say that their lives were in jeopardy. Many came very close to it at the hands of crazed Trump supporters, including a few who were beaten unconscious.
one two
one two Jul 27, 2021 10:16AM ET
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"it doesn't matter If you keep spreading misinformation about dead law enforcement to further your political agenda"
oeg vokar
oeg vokar Jul 27, 2021 10:12AM ET
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"trying to overturn his election"-Very interesting....how 200 people can overturn an election??? Any reasonable suggestion or example from the world or history?
Raymond Huggard
Raymond Huggard Jul 27, 2021 10:06AM ET
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Meanwhile liberals condone much worse violence from blm and antifa.
Adrian White
Adrian White Jul 27, 2021 10:06AM ET
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Taylor, get your facts straight. No Liberals were condoning the violence. Many were siding with the peaceful protests during the day, against racism and police violence, sure. But that's totally separate from the riots that often took place after dark, by a bunch of thugs who took advantage of the situation. Just like there were peaceful protesters at the Capitol before the chaos ensued by other Trump supporters who were very violent. The summer riots had nothing to do with Liberals vs Conservatives. It was Trump who made up that lie, to try and position himself in a better light running up to the election.
Adrian White
Adrian White Jul 27, 2021 10:06AM ET
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Sorry, Taylor. That was supposed to be a reply to Raymond's comment, not yours.
Brandon Wooton
Brandon Wooton Jul 27, 2021 10:01AM ET
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interesting how "racial slur" is being used for excusing all sorts of terrible behavior, including in this case, lying.
Whaling Trawler
Whaling Trawler Jul 27, 2021 9:59AM ET
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Medieval is strictly and historcally EUROPEAN. Medieval is part of EUROPEAN history and CULTURE.
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Jul 27, 2021 9:58AM ET
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The main point is prevention. Gov is trying to prevent this or bigger from happening again so they try to make it bigly.
Matt Johnson
Matt Johnson Jul 27, 2021 9:58AM ET
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If that were the case, then they would use any of the Liberal riots, & certainly not a situation where CIA & FBI agents were involved with organizing & inciting.. as stated by White House documents. This is only propaganda.
Matt Johnson
Matt Johnson Jul 27, 2021 9:57AM ET
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Reuters is just Liberal propaganda trash.
Matt Johnson
Matt Johnson Jul 27, 2021 9:57AM ET
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Reuters is just Liberal propaganda trash.
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer Jul 27, 2021 9:53AM ET
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BLM featured criminal violence. Cuomo's harassments and nursing home slaughter aswell. Hunter Biden is neck deep in corruption. Pelosi is doing inside trading. And all these clows want to display themselves as morally upholding citizens by going on about this Jan 6 circus. Ladies and gentleman, "the radical left circus of freaks".
Meru Pet
Meru Pet Jul 27, 2021 9:52AM ET
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yeah like in the middle age, in the US...
Dan Jackson
Dan Jackson Jul 27, 2021 9:40AM ET
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How long do they think they can go on with these lies and fake stories?
John Avenetti
John Avenetti Jul 27, 2021 9:40AM ET
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until the republic falls. we're close
Erski Gumby
SB20 Jul 27, 2021 9:31AM ET
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And only one person was murdered.
Catholic Man
CatholicMan Jul 27, 2021 9:31AM ET
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LOL
Scot House
Scot House Jul 27, 2021 7:44AM ET
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You mean the guys that opened the doors and told them to go in?
David JC
David JC Jul 27, 2021 6:31AM ET
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Kabuki theater
Brandon Wooton
Brandon Wooton Jul 27, 2021 6:31AM ET
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Stalin theater.
 
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