Police who were at Capitol Hill during the January 6 riot shared their experiences in court testifying on Tuesday at the emotional opening hearing led by the congressional panel tasked with investigating the violent incident.
Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell recollected the insurrection saying that he felt he was going to die that day defending the entrance of the building. The law enforcement personnel said he felt like he was losing oxygen as rioters continued to crush him trying to get inside the Capitol.
Violent Capitol Hill Riot
Gonell and three other police officers testified at the hearing, recollecting their experiences of that chaotic day. Some broke down in tears while others criticized Republicans who refused to support the investigation and have downplayed the events of the violent riot.
Half a year after the incident, the government has not taken any action to increase the defenses around the Capitol or provide full details of the incident. The new panel was created to alleviate the concerns and look into the riot; it started with taking into account the experiences of police who were present at the scene.
Graphic videos of the incident showed the harrowing events that included hand-to-hand fighting with officers being beaten as they tried to protect the building and its occupants from the mob. The rioters could be seen breaking windows and doors to try and breach the Capitol and get to lawmakers, the Associated Press reported.
During the riot, public members also shouted profanities at police officers, with some noting they voted for Democrat Joe Biden. Others yelled at officers to put their guns down so they could show them what they really were.
Officer Harry Dunn said he always tried to keep politics out of his job as law enforcement personnel but said that, at that moment, he blamed then-President Donald Trump was responsible for inciting the insurrection. He acknowledged that he really voted for Biden but asked if his vote did not matter.
After rioters cleared later that afternoon, Dunn said he quickly became emotional at the scene. He sat on a bench with another Black officer. He yelled, expressing his discontentment of the incident and asking how something like that was possible, and began to break into tears, NPR reported.
Downplaying the Incident
D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone heavily criticized former President Trump for his apparent incitement of the violent incident and his continued downplaying after the fact. During the riot, Fanone was tased, beaten, and stripped of his badge; he testified in the hearing that lawmakers who denied the violence of the incident were "betray[ing] their oath of office."
The officer said that the indifference that many have shown his colleagues was "disgraceful." Fanone said nothing could have prepared him for the politicians who continue to deny the violent events of that day.
Republicans have continued to claim in the last few months there was no armed insurrection that targeted Capitol Hill. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has even called the January 6 incident a "peaceful protest," Yahoo News reported.