‘This is how I’m going to die.’ Capitol Cops testify as Jan. 6 inquiry begins.


Aquilino A. Gonell, a Capitol Police sergeant and veteran of the Iraq battle, was almost crushed in the course of the Jan. 6 riot on the Capitol and has watched with frustration within the months since as some Republican members of Congress have tried to downplay or deny the violence he confronted.

On Tuesday, Sergeant Gonell advised his story in brutal and emotional element earlier than Congress, as one among 4 law enforcement officials who responded to the assault that day and are testifying on the first listening to of the choose committee investigating the lethal storming of the Capitol. Republican leaders, who’ve repeatedly opposed efforts to scrutinize the incursion by a pro-Trump mob, boycotted the session.

“I could feel myself losing oxygen and recall thinking to myself, ‘This is how I’m going to die — defending this entrance,’” Sergeant Gonell advised the panel.

About 140 law enforcement officials have been injured as supporters of President Donald J. Trump breached the Capitol, the place Congress was assembly to depend the electoral votes to formalize President Biden’s election. The rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” stalked the halls looking for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and compelled lawmakers to interrupt the depend and evacuate their chambers.

“There is a continuous, shocking attempt to ignore or try to destroy the truth of what truly happened that day, and to whitewash the facts into something other than what they unmistakably reveal: An attack on our democracy by violent domestic extremists, and a stain on our history and our moral standing here at home and abroad,” Sergeant Gonell stated, wiping away tears as he testified.

Democrats opened the listening to, which was anticipated to final for a number of hours, by enjoying beforehand unreleased video of the violence of Jan. 6, together with physique digital camera footage during which rioters might be seen at shut vary attacking and cursing the police as officers struggled to carry them again. The voices of rioters might be heard calmly directing the assault by way of radios as law enforcement officials might be heard on their very own channels issuing panicked misery calls.

Because the scenes and sounds of the violence performed loudly within the listening to room, the officers, clad of their darkish blue uniforms, grew emotional and a few embraced one another.

In his opening remarks, Consultant Bennie G. Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and chairman of the choose committee, referred to as the boys “heroes,” who prevented an even-greater catastrophe.

“A violent mob was pointed toward the Capitol and told to win a trial by combat,” Mr. Thompson stated. “Some descended on this city with clear plans to disrupt our democracy. One rioter said that they weren’t there to commit violence, but that, and I’m quoting, ‘We were just there to overthrow the government.’”

Officer Harry Dunn of the Capitol Police and two officers with the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Division, Officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges, who was crushed in a door in the course of the rampage, additionally appeared earlier than the committee.

Officer Fanone, who was crushed unconscious and subjected to repeated shocks together with his personal Taser by the mob, struggling a coronary heart assault and a mind damage, stated he heard rioters calling for him to be killed together with his personal gun.

“I was dragged from the line of officers and into the crowd,” he stated. “I was electrocuted again and again and again.”

At one level throughout his testimony, he slammed his hand towards the desk and referred to as the makes an attempt to downplay the violence “disgraceful.”

Officer Dunn deliberate to testify about how, as he fought off the rioters as soon as that they had damaged into the Capitol, he and different Black officers confronted a slew of racist slurs.

“In the days following the attempted insurrection, other Black officers shared with me their own stories of racial abuse on January 6,” he stated in ready remarks obtained by The New York Occasions.

The testimony got here as Home Republicans have been at odds over the investigation. Ms. Pelosi appointed two Republicans — Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, each vocal critics of Mr. Trump — to serve on the committee, whereas rejecting two of the previous president’s loyalists chosen by Consultant Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority chief.

In her opening assertion, Ms. Cheney stated she was “obligated to rise above politics” by collaborating. She pledged fast subpoenas and to get the underside of the incitement of the rioters and any potential ties to the Trump administration and marketing campaign.

“We cannot leave the violence of January 6th and its causes un-investigated,” Ms. Cheney stated. “We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack.”

Mr. McCarthy pulled all 5 of the Republicans he had advisable for the panel and mocked Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger as “Pelosi Republicans,” suggesting he would possibly attempt to strip them of different committee assignments as punishment.

G.O.P. leaders held their very own occasion earlier than the listening to, the place they sought to deflect blame from Mr. Trump and themselves for the riot, saying the fault lay with Democrats who didn’t fortify the Capitol towards assault.

“Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6,” stated Consultant Elise Stefanik of New York, the No. 3 Republican who changed Ms. Cheney when the social gathering ousted her for talking out towards Mr. Trump.

Congressional leaders rent the legislation enforcement personnel accountable for Capitol safety, however are sometimes not concerned in day-to-day selections about safety protocols. Safety on the Capitol is managed by the Capitol Police Board, which incorporates the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and the architect of the Capitol.

A gaggle of far-right Republicans scheduled a protest outdoors the Justice Division later Tuesday to object to the remedy of “January 6th prisoners” who they declare have been mistreated due to their political views.

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