Four officers described the emotional and physical assaults they endured from the Jan. 6 insurrectionists.
By Vanessa Montalbano
The House select committee charged with investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol heard from four police officers on July 27, who described the violence they faced from the mob that stormed the building.
The committee is made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans — Rep. Liz Cheney [Wyo.] and Rep. Adam Kinzinger [Ill.] This was the first hearing held on the insurrection.
In his closing remarks, Rep. Bennie Thompson [Miss.] chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot told the four law enforcement officers “we cannot allow what happened on Jan. 6 to happen again. We owe it to you and your colleagues and we will not fail, I assure you, in that responsibility.”
D.C. Metropolitan Police Officers Daniel Hodges and Michael Fanone and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn and Sgt. Aquilino Gonell gave vivid testimonies of the attack and their experiences defending the U.S. Capitol from supporters of former President Donald Trump.
“For most people, Jan. 6 happened for a few hours,” Sgt. Gonell said. “But, for those of us who were in the thick of it, it has not ended.”
Seven people died and over 140 law enforcement officers were injured during the riot at the Capitol building. Within six months, four police officers who responded to the riot died by suicide.
“I want to take this moment to speak to my fellow officers about their emotions,” Dunn said during his testimony. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking professional counseling. If you are hurting, take advantage of the counseling available to us.” Dunn said he has decided to begin private counseling to deal with his own trauma.
Fanone told lawmakers that while his physical ailments, including a traumatic brain injury, a concussion and a heart attack, have waned, he is still suffering. “I’ve been left with psychological trauma and the emotional anxiety of having survived such a horrific event,” he said. “And my children continue to deal with the trauma of nearly losing their dad that day.”
Fanone told lawmakers that he “has been through hell and back to protect them and so many in this room.” What has made the struggle harder, he said, is knowing that many of his fellow citizens, including some elected officials, are downplaying or outright denying what happened on Jan. 6.
“The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” Fanone said, pounding his fist on the panel table. “Nothing has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day and in doing so betray their oath of office. Those very members whose lives and offices I fought so desperately to defend.”
Kinzinger criticized those members of his party who have spread conspiracies about the attack or empathized with rioters, saying that the reason why there are so few answers as to what happened that day is because Republicans have “treated this as just another partisan fight.”
The select committee is expected to schedule another hearing next month on other people, including lawmakers, connected to the riot.