Four Capitol police officers kicked off congressional hearings into the events of Jan. 6 with disturbing accounts of what they experienced as a group of pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Officer Harry Dunn, who is Black, testified that rioters hurled a “torrent of racial epithets” at him after he told them he voted for Joe Biden.
“No one had ever — ever — called me a ‘n*****’’ while wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer,” Dunn testified Tuesday. “In the days following the attempted insurrection, other Black officers shared with me their own stories of racial abuse on Jan. 6. One officer told me he had never, in his entire 40 years of life, been called a ‘n*****’ to his face, and that that streak ended on Jan. 6. Yet another Black officer later told [me] he had been confronted by insurrectionists inside the Capitol, who told him to ‘Put your gun down and we’ll show you what kind of n***** you really are!’”
Officer Daniel Hodges said he found himself trapped in a doorway during the riot, with what he called a “mob of terrorists” crushing him in a revolving door. His cries of pain were captured in a widely circulated video.
“My arms were pinned and effectively useless, trapped against either the shield on my left and the door frame on my right,” Hodges said at the hearing. “With my posture granting me no functional strength or freedom of movement, I was effectively defenseless and gradually sustaining injury from the increasing pressure of the mob.”
Officer Aquilino Gonell said he believed he would die defending an entrance to the Capitol.
“My fellow officers and I were punched, pushed, kicked, shoved, sprayed with chemical irritants and even blinded with eye-damaging lasers by a violent mob who apparently saw us law enforcement officers, dedicated to ironically protecting them as U.S. citizens, as an impediment in their attempted insurrection,” Gonell said.
Officer Michael Fanone was dragged into the crowd. He testified that he feared he would be killed. When asked about Donald Trump and the Republican leadership who have downplayed the attack, Fanone became angry, banging his hand on the table.
“The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” Fanone said. “Nothing, truly nothing, has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day.”
Video from harrowing events was also played during the hearing. The nine-person House select committee convened to investigate the deadly riot includes two Republicans who were selected by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.