Four officers who testified on Tuesday before the House select committee on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol gave emotional testimony about being verbally and physically attacked by rioters.
Capitol Police Officers Aguilino Gonell and Harry Dunn, as well as Metropolitan Police Officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges, spoke to the nine-member panel, recalling injuries they sustained, as well as emotional trauma from the day.
“I could have lost my life that day, not once, but many times,” Officer Gonell said.
Officer Gonell said he sustained injuries on both his hands, his left shoulder and his right foot, which he had already had surgery on.
He became emotional while speaking about being on duty that day, particularly when recalling family members calling him after seeing the events on television.
The officer said when he arrived home early the next day, he could not hug his wife because he was covered in chemicals from sprays that rioters dispersed on him.
“My fellow officers and I were kicked, punched, shoved and sprayed with chemical irritants, and even blinded by eye-damaging lasers by a violent mob,” Officer Gonell said.
Officer Hodges with the District said he recalled wrestling with rioters who attempted to take his baton.
He said people shouted verbal attacks, including a threat that he would die on his knees.
At one point, Officer Hodges said a rioter attacked him in an attempt to permanently blind him.
“One latched on to my face and got his thumb in my right eye in an attempt to gauge it out,” Officer Hodges said. “I cried out in pain. I managed to shake him off before any permanent damage was done.”
Fellow District Officer Fanone said his badge was ripped off his uniform, as well as his radio and ammunition that had been secured to his body.
At some point during the riot, Officer Fanone said he was electrocuted repeatedly with a taser.
“They began to beat me with their fists and what felt like hard metal objects,” Officer Fanone said. “At one point I came face to face with an attacker who repeatedly lunged for me and attempted to remove my firearm. I heard chanting from some in the crowd to ‘get his gun and kill him with his own gun.’ ”
Capitol Police Officer Dunn, who is Black, said rioters had screamed racially charged attacks at him, invoking the N-word.
Officer Dunn said the attacks increased after he revealed he had voted for President Biden, following accusations by rioters that the election had been stolen.
“We’re here to stop the steal. Joe Biden is not the president. Nobody voted for Joe Biden,” Officer Dunn recalled rioters saying.
He said he responded by speaking calmly to them about his vote.
“I do my best to keep politics out of my job, but in this circumstance, I responded, ‘Well I voted for Joe Biden. Does my vote not count? Am I nobody?” Officer Dunn said.
That’s when the officer said the racially charged attacks began.
“That prompted a torrent of racial epithets. One woman in a pink MAGA shirt yelled, ‘You hear that guys? This n——- voted for Joe Biden,’ Officer Dunn said. “Nobody had ever, ever called me a n——- while wearing the uniform of a Capitol Police officer.”
Tuesday’s hearing kicked off with opening remarks by Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson and Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans, alongside Rep. Adam Kinzinger, to serve on the panel.
Other members of the committee are Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Adam B. Schiff, Jamie Raskin, Peter Aguilar, Stephanie Murphy, and Elaine Luria, all Democrats.
Mr. Kinzinger, Illinois Republican, who became emotional upon hearing the officers’ recount their experience, reminded the attendees that their recollections were just a small sample of those who faced the same fate.
“You are four with stories, but there are hundreds with stories as well that you represent from where you sit,” Mr. Kinzinger said.
The Justice Department has already charged more than 500 people connected to the Jan. 6 riot.
More than 140 officers were injured in the event and a total of five people had died, including Officer Brian Sicknick. His death was later ruled by a medical examiner to be caused by a stroke.