Michael Fanone, a D.C. police officer savagely beaten at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, called Rep. Andrew Clyde a “coward” for allegedly ignoring him as they shared an elevator Wednesday.
Officer Fanone, who suffered a mild heart attack and concussion from of the assault, described his apparent encounter with Mr. Clyde, Georgia Republican, while being interviewed on CNN several hours later.
“I was very cordial. I extended my hand to shake his hand. He just stared at me,” the officer said. “I asked him if he was going to shake my hand and he told me that he didn’t who know I was. So I introduced myself. I said that I was Officer Michael Fanone, that I was a D.C. Metropolitan Police officer who fought on Jan. 6 to defend the Capitol. And as a result, I suffered a traumatic brain injury as well as a heart attack after having been tased numerous times at the base of my skull, as well as being severely beaten.
“At that point, the congressman turned away from me, pulled out his cellphone. It looked like he was attempting to pull up like an audio recording app on his phone. And again, like never acknowledged me at any point. As soon as the elevator doors opened, he ran as quickly as he could like a coward,” Officer Fanone added.
Mr. Clyde confirmed Thursday afternoon that the encounter with Officer Fanone had occurred but said that he remembered it differently.
“I briefly shared an elevator with Mr. Fanone on my way to votes but I do not recall him offering to shake hands,” Mr. Clyde said in a statement, adding he was “more than happy to shake hands with any law enforcement officer.”
Officer Fanone said his encounter with Mr. Clyde occurred as he was attempting to schedule meetings with the 21 lawmakers who voted Tuesday against a bill honoring all police who responded to the Capitol riot.
The encounter first came to light after Rep. Eric Swalwell, California Democrat, posted about it on social media earlier Wednesday. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Illinois Republican, later confirmed that account.
“Obviously, I took that particular interaction like, very personally,” Officer Fanone said about the elevator incident while appearing on CNN. “But I also took it as a representation of Andrew Clyde giving the middle finger to myself and every other member of the Metropolitan Police Department and U.S. Capitol Police that responded that day.
Scores of police officers were injured in and around the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 while attempting to protect the building and its lawmakers inside from rioting mobs of supporters of former President Donald Trump.
Three men have been federally charged in connection with attacking Officer Fanone. Hundreds of others face charges ranging from misdemeanors such as trespassing to felonies such as assaulting police.
Mr. Clyde and 20 other House Republicans voted this week not to award the Congressional Gold Medal to all police officers who responded to the riot. The measure overwhelmingly passed regardless.
Previously, Mr. Clyde said last month that video footage of the Jan. 6 riot showed essentially a “normal tourist visit” taking place at the Capitol.
“I felt compelled to confront him specifically because of the comments that he had made,” Officer Fanone said on CNN.
“At this point, if you’re gonna sling bulls—- about Jan. 6, I’m gonna call you out on it,” he added.