Riots on Capitol Hill: Police Officer Was “More Scared” During January Uprising Than During Deployment in Iraq

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Riots on Capitol Hill: Police Officer Was “More Scared” During January Uprising Than During Deployment in Iraq


A US police officer says he was more afraid defending the nation’s Capitol from rioters than he was during his deployment to Iraq.

Sergeant Aquilino Gonell was one of four police officers to testify before the House Special Committee in Washington DC about January 6 events.

That day, supporters of then-President Donald Trump burst onto Capitol Hill as Congress convened to certify Joe Biden as the next President of the United States.

Seven people died, including three police officers, and dozens of people were arrested in the aftermath of the attack.

Sergeant Gonell, a 15-year police veteran, said the scene looked like “something of a medieval battlefield”.

He said: “On January 6, for the first time, I was more afraid of working on Capitol Hill than during my entire military deployment in Iraq.

Sgt Gonell is a decorated Army veteran, having deployed at the age of 25 to Iraq, where he spent 545 days and survived a number of attacks.

He told representatives: “In Iraq we expected gun violence because we were in a war zone. But nothing in my experience in the military or as a law enforcement officer prepared me for what we faced on January 6.

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Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, Metropolitan Police Department officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges, and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn

He said he did not recognize his fellow citizens as they stormed the Capitol or the country they claimed to represent, recounting how he and his colleagues were beaten, pushed, kicked, sprayed with chemicals and even blinded by harmful lasers to the eyes.

He sustained injuries to his hands, left shoulder, left calf and right foot. The foot injury required surgery and he will need another shoulder surgery. He has been on medical and administrative leave for six months.

“For most people, January 6 went on for a few hours that day, but for those of us who were at the heart of the story, it’s not over yet.

“That day continues to be a constant trauma for us, literally every day, whether it is from our physical or emotional wounds, or both. “

Metropolitan Police Daniel Hodges said he was attacked that day, with part of the crowd telling him, “You will die on your knees. “

Constable Hodges said someone stuck a thumb in his eye, “trying to gauge him” and another “foam-in-the-mouth” rioter grabbed his gas mask and punched him. head against the door with it.

Another police officer, Michael Fanone, said he was caught, beaten, shocked with a taser, while being called a traitor.

He said: “I was in danger of being stripped – and killed with – of my own gun. “

Speaking of how he and his colleagues had been treated since then, he said: “What makes the struggle more difficult and painful is knowing that so many of my fellow citizens, including so many for whom I put my life on the line, downplay or categorically deny what happened.

“I feel like I went to hell and come back to protect them and the people in this room, but too many people tell me that hell doesn’t exist or that hell isn’t there. not so serious.

“The indifference shown to my colleagues is shameful. “

Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland and member of the select committee, told the four officers: “You will be remembered as heroes of our country, along with your fellow officers, and those who attacked you and those who beat you are fascist traitors. to our country and will be remembered forever as fascist traitors. “

The committee asked the officers what they expected from the investigation, to which Officer Harry Dunn replied: “It was an attack on January 6 and a hitman sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of this. ”

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