Buffalo, NY – A Buffalo man was arrested on Friday for his involvement in an attack on a DC police officer during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
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.
Officer Fanone 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!”
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents have identified Thomas Sibick of Buffalo as one of the rioters who attacked Officer Fanone, WKBW reported.
Charging documents unsealed on Friday said that Sibick tore Officer Fanone’s badge and radio from his uniform during the attack and then went home and buried the badge in his backyard, CBS News reported.
Sibick was arrested in Buffalo on March 12 and was facing charges that included assaulting or impeding law enforcement, obstruction of law enforcement, and taking from a person anything of value by force.
A federal judge in the Western District of New York released Sibick to home confinement over the government’s objection on Saturday, CBS News reported.
Prosecutors appealed that ruling in the D.C. Federal court where it will eventually be prosecuted.
Investigators became aware of Sibick’s involvement in the Capitol riot after a witness told them he had posted a video to Instagram that showed him yelling “just got tear-gassed, but we’re going, baby, we’re going! We’re pushing forward now!” WKBW reported.
Another witness who was close to Sibick gave investigators a picture of Sibick posing with a stolen U.S. Capitol Police riot shield in the midst of the chaos.
Investigators also identified a man believed to be Sibick in multiple videos filmed inside and outside the Capitol building during the riot, WKBW reported.
Court documents showed that when Sibick was initially interviewed by FBI agents he told them he had heard someone say “get his gun and kill him” in the presence of a police officer on the steps of the Capitol on Jan. 6.
He said he had reached for the officer to help him, WKBW reported.
Sibick told agents he hadn’t planned to use the riot shield but had just posed with it when it was passed around.
He claimed he would provide investigators with information about rioters who assaulted police, WKBW reported.
But when he was confronted with bodycam video from the riot, Sibick admitted he had grabbed Officer Fanone’s badge and radio and claimed he had been trying to help the officer.
Sibick first claimed he tossed the badge and radio in a trash can on Constitution Avenue, then said he brought it home to Buffalo and intended to turn it in but was afraid he’d get into trouble, WKBW reported.
Court records showed he told investigators that he tossed it in the dumpster in the alley behind the Lenox Hotel, but after he was told they were going to check surveillance cameras at the hotel, he admitted that wasn’t true either.
Sibick said he buried the badge in his backyard and threw away the radio, WKBW reported.
He turned the badge over to police before he was arrested.