*It’s an emotional first day of testimony at the committee hearing on the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. (Watch live testimony above.)
Tuesday’s focus was on the law enforcement officers who were attacked and beaten as the rioters broke into the building — an effort to put a human face on the violence of the day. The police officers who are testifying endured some of the worst of the brutality. NBC Washington reported, “They were punched, trampled, crushed and sprayed with chemical irritants. They were called racial slurs and threatened with their own weapons as the mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters overwhelmed them, broke through windows and doors and interrupted the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win.”
Testifying are Capitol Police officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell and Metropolitan Police officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges.
Dunn said that attackers yelled the N-word to his face and told him and other officers of their storming of the Capitol, “We’re doing this for you.”
Sgt. Gonell became emotional during his opening testimony while sharing his experience defending the Capitol, pausing several times as he detailed how he could have died.
“I was falsely accused of betraying my ‘oath’ and of choosing my ‘paycheck’ over my loyalty to the U.S. Constitution – even as I defended the very democratic process that protected everyone in that hostile crowd,” Gonell said in his opening statement.
Gonell, an immigrant, described growing up and seeing America as a symbol of freedom. He choked up as he explained that he later found out that his wife and relatives in the U.S. and abroad were frantically calling and texting him from 2 p.m. onward that day. But he couldn’t let his family know until 4:26 p.m. that he was alive.
“I could have lost my life that day, but as soon as I recover from my injuries I will continue forward and proudly serve my country and the U.S. Capitol Police,” he said.
Fanone said he suffered from a concussion and traumatic brain injury after responding to the attack, as well as PTSD. He expressed dismay at some Americans’ reactions to the insurrection, and said the response to the attack should not be dictated by politics.
“I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room, but too many are now telling me hell doesn’t exist,” the officer said of efforts to downplay or deny what happened.
Hodges, the officer seen in widely-circulated video being crushed against a doorframe and having his gas mask ripped from his face as he screams for help, testified about his experience that day.