Capitol rioter apologizes to police officers following testimony at Jan. 6 hearing
Capitol riot defendant Stephen Ayres, who testified before the Jan. 6 select committee on Tuesday, apologized to a group of police officers who defended the Capitol during the riot following the panel’s presentation.
After Tuesday’s hearing ended, Ayres — who answered questions from panel members on how former President Trump influenced his decision to join the riot — approached Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, former D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, D.C. police officer Daniel Hodges, and Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell.
“I’m really sorry,” Ayres told Dunn, according to NBC News.
Audio of the exchange was not caught on C-SPAN video, but reporters close to the interaction reported that Ayres apologized to all three officers.
Fanone told reporters after the exchange, “No apology necessary,” according to Politico.
He said the apology “doesn’t really do shit for me.”
“I hope it does something for him,” he added.
Hodges told USA Today of his interaction with Ayres, “I asked him if he was sorry and he said ‘yes,’ and I said ‘I hope so.’”
In response to a photo posted on Twitter of Dunn and Ayres shaking hands, captioned, “An apology given and accepted,” Dunn wrote, “*Apology given…”
Ayres was arrested on Jan. 25, 2021, and charged with obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building.
He testified before the Jan. 6 select committee at Tuesday’s public hearing, saying he decided to make the trip to D.C. on Jan. 6 after Trump put out a call to his supporters on social media.
“For me personally, you know, I was, you know, pretty hardcore into the social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I followed, you know, President Trump on all the websites, you know. He basically put out, you know, come to Stop the Steal rally, you know, and I felt like I needed to be down here,” he testified.
Asked how he felt when Trump said the 2020 presidential election was stolen, Ayres said he was “very upset,” adding, “That’s basically what got me to come down here.”
He added, “I may not have come down here,” meaning to Washington, D.C., for the riot, if he had known Trump had no evidence of widespread fraud.
Ayres testified that he had not initially planned to walk to the Capitol following Trump’s speech at the Ellipse but ultimately decided to make the trek because of the president’s remarks.
“The president, you know, got everybody riled up, told everybody head on down. So we basically were just following what he said,” he said.
“I think everybody thought he was going to be coming down, you know, he said in his speech, you know, kind of like he’s gonna be there with us, so I mean I believed it,” he later said when asked if he thought Trump would be marching with his supporters.
Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified earlier this month that Trump wanted to join marchers to the Capitol after the rally but that the Secret Service refused and brought him to the White House instead.
Ayres said he finally left the Capitol once Trump sent a tweet just after 4 p.m. urging his supporters to leave the building.
He said that had the president written the message on Twitter earlier, he may have left sooner.
“Basically when President Trump put his tweet out, we literally left right after that come out. You know, to me if he would have done that earlier in the day, 1:30, you know, maybe we wouldn’t be in this bad of a situation or something,” he testified.