Washington, DC – DC police officers who were on the front lines of the Capitol riot on Wednesday morning described their harrowing experience to reporters, including being beaten with Thin Blue Line flags and hearing rioters yell “kill him with his own gun.”
DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Officer Michael Fanone was one of the officers who responded to the urgent request for help from U.S. Capitol Police on Jan. 6 when angry protesters stormed the Capitol building, The Washington Post reported.
“They were overthrowing the Capitol, the seat of democracy, and I f–king went,” Officer Fanone said.
He and many other DC and Capitol Police officers battled back the encroaching mob on the West Terrace of the Capitol for hours, unaware that the building had already been breached by rioters at a different entrance.
Rioters beat the officers with flag poles and their own batons and shields and sprayed bear mace in their faces, The Washington Post reported.
“We weren’t battling 50 or 60 rioters in this tunnel,” Officer Fanone told reporters. “We were battling 15,000 people. It looked like a medieval battle scene.”
He said a rioter grabbed him by the helmet and dragged him down the steps of the Capitol building.
The attack on Officer Fanone was captured on video and went viral, showing rioters beating the officer with flag police flying Thin Blue Line flags in support of law enforcement.
Police said a second officer was dragged down the steps a moment later, The Washington Post reported.
Both of the officers were hit with stun guns multiple times.
Officer Fanone suffered a mild heart attack in the middle of the chaos, The Washington Post reported.
He drifted in and out of consciousness but still remembers the terrifying mob chanting “USA” as they beat on him with metal poles pulled from the scaffolding that had been set up in preparation for the Inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden.
“We got one! We got one!” Officer Fanone said rioters yelled. “Kill him with his own gun!”
Chilling: @DCPoliceDept officer Michael Fanone said on CNN that rioters went for his gun, saying “Kill him with his own gun”.
He told CNN, “It was all about self preservation…I “appealed to their humanity…I just remember yelling out I have kids”
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) January 15, 2021
The father of four daughters who joined the DC police after 9/11 said he remembered trying to appeal to the humanity of the mob, yelling out that he had children, The Washington Post reported.
“I was being beat from every angle,” he said. “I thought, maybe, I could appeal to somebody’s humanity.”
He was dragged into the mob, his badge ripped off, beaten, tased, and pepper sprayed. All the while hearing the protestors saying, “Kill him with his own gun!” I can’t imagine the fear and distress he felt, not knowing if he was going make it out alive, /3
— Leonard Wu (@iamleonardwu) January 9, 2021
Officer Fanone said it was at that point that some of the people in the crowd began to surround and try to protect him from those who wanted to hurt him.
The Washington Post reported that the DC police officers who responded to the Capitol were sent to defend the building on the outside terraces while the bulk of the Capitol Police worked to secure and clear the inside of the Capitol itself.
Rioters used parts of bleachers and scaffolding to create a barricade to push police back.
MPD Commander Robert Glover who was the on-scene incident commander for DC police at the Capitol riot said it didn’t feel like they were making any progress, The Washington Post reported.
“We were literally taking 15 to 20 minutes to get each stair back,” Cmdr. Glover said.
Cmdr. Glover said officers ran out of chemical munitions and that rioters kept popping up in the middle of the police lines from all directions.
“As we’re pushing, literally foot by foot, we were taking law enforcement injuries, serious in nature,” the commander told The Washington Post.
He described the Capitol riot as a “coordinated assault.”
“Everything they did was in a military fashion,” Cmdr. Glover said.
He described seeing rioters in “military formations” using hand signs and flags to signal positions.
MPD Officer Daniel Hodges got separated from his Civil Disturbance Unit at the Capitol riot and then rioters stole his radio, The Washington Post reported.
Officer Hodges said he was knocked down and someone tried to gouge his eyes out before another officer pulled him free.
He said he donned his gas mask and joined the officers trying to protect the entrance to the tunnel on the West Terrace, The Washington Post reported.
Chilling video of Officer Hodges caught in the doors and being crushed by the rioters went viral and put a face on the stories about the multitude of police officers from DC and Capitol Police who were injured during the riot.
“The absolute zealotry of these people. They 100% believed that what they were doing is right, that they were the Patriots” -DC Metro police officer, Daniel Hodges, on the mob that crushed him in a doorway at the U.S. Capitol last week. #wcvb pic.twitter.com/5PkpBudZQh
— antoinette antonio (@antoinetteA) January 15, 2021
“I really couldn’t defend myself at that point,” he said.
A rioter tore off Officer Hodges’ gas mask and another took his baton and began beating him with it, The Washington Post reported.
“The zealotry of these people is absolutely unreal,” Officer Hodges told reporters. “There were points where I thought it was possible I could either die or become seriously disfigured.”
He said he didn’t want to draw his service weapon because he said he knew that some of the rioters had guns, too, The Washington Post reported.
“I didn’t want to be the guy who starts shooting, because I knew they had guns — we had been seizing guns all day,” Officer Hodges said. “And the only reason I could think of that they weren’t shooting us was they were waiting for us to shoot first. And if it became a firefight between a couple hundred officers and a couple thousand demonstrators, we would have lost.”
Now-former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned in disgrace the day after the Capitol riot, said that he had requested additional help at the Capitol multiple times ahead of the planned Jan. 6 protest in DC.
Former Chief Sund claims he begged for help for hours on the day the Capitol was breached but bureaucracy and poor leadership from the sergeants at arms of the House and Senate left Capitol Police and members of Congress woefully unprotected for hours.
Sixty DC police officers and an unknown number of Capitol Police officers were injured during the Capitol riot, The Washington Post reported.