Jan. 6 panel chairman previews officers’ testimony

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) is seen as he leaves the Capitol following the last votes of the week on Thursday, July 1, 2021.
Greg Nash

The chairman of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is previewing the testimony the panel will hear Tuesday from law enforcement officers who protected the Capitol during the siege.

“The officers’ testimony will bring into focus individual acts of heroism by law enforcement that day. The officers will also speak to how, more than six months after the attack, law enforcement officers continue to deal with the physical, mental and emotional effects of that day,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

“This conversation is an important step, as we look to bolster protection of the Capitol and our democracy,” he continued.

The panel will hear from Capitol Police Officers Aquilino Gonell and Harry Dunn as well as Metropolitan Police Officers Daniel Hodges and Michael Fanone during its first hearing on Tuesday.

Gonell has said that he was beaten, had his hand sliced open and was doused in chemical spray, while Dunn has said he was called racist slurs and experienced post-traumatic stress disorder.

Hodges, meanwhile, was crushed in a door by rioters, had his gas mask ripped off and was beaten with his own baton, and Fanone has said that rioters suggested killing him with his own gun.

“Fanone voluntarily rushed to the Capitol with his partner when he heard about the attacks. As a result of his bravery that day, he suffered a traumatic brain injury and a heart attack,” Thompson wrote in the Post.

“In a video that has now been shared widely, Hodges can be seen being crushed by the mob as he and his fellow officers sought to defend a narrow hallway leading to a Capitol entrance. Dunn was one of the first officers to speak publicly about what law enforcement encountered when the rioters stormed the Capitol and the racial epithets he and others faced,” he added. “Gonell, a veteran who had been deployed to Iraq, defended the Capitol against rioters who hurled chants of ‘traitor.’ While pulling an officer who had fallen to the ground away from the rioters, Gonell was beaten with a pole carrying an American flag.”

Over 535 people in all 50 states have been arrested in connection with the riots that saw supporters of former President Trump storm the Capitol, seeking to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. Over 165 people have been charged with assaulting law enforcement, the Department of Justice said last week.

Over 140 police officers were assaulted during the riots, including 80 Capitol Police officers and 60 from Metropolitan Police.

Thompson wrote that Tuesday’s hearing is just “the beginning of the select committee’s work,” adding that “when it comes to the security of the Capitol — and our democracy — nothing will be off-limits.”

“We will do what is necessary to understand what happened, why and how. And we will make recommendations to help ensure it never happens again. We owe it to the country we love to provide the answers that the American people deserve,” he added.

Tags Bennie Thompson Capitol breach Donald Trump Jan. 6 Committee

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