A Washington, D.C., Metropolitan police officer called those who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 “terrorists” on Tuesday during testimony on the incident.
Officer Michel Fanone said he and his fellow officers fought for two hours “unrelieved” during the demonstration. “I remember looking up through the set of double doors that there was glass panes and you could see the CS gas, like, white powder still lingering in the air. It was at that point I realized that I really probably should have brought my gas mask,” Fanone said.
Fanone said other officers “looked beat to hell” which made him realize “the gravity of the situation.”
“Once I got up there, it was the first time I really came face-to-face with these terrorists,” Fanone said. “They were dressed in clothing adorned with political slogans, Make America Great Again, Donald Trump 2020, things of that nature. They were wearing military-style clothing, Kevlar vests, Kevlar helmets, many of them had gas masks. Quite a few had shields which they had taken away from law enforcement officers. They were using them to beat us at the front line.”
Fanone speculated that the large group of demonstrators outside the door would have “trampled the officers to death” and “most certainly you would have had police officers killed” if the crowd had accomplished pushing past the line of policemen.
Fanone’s testimony came during the opening hearing of the newly formed congressional panel dedicated to investigating the Capitol storming. He was among four officers who shared their accounts of the day’s events.
Fanone said he was eventually pulled from the line of law enforcement and “violently assaulted from every direction.” He said he remembered demonstrators in the crowd attempted to take his gun, including one to “lunged [at him] time and time again.” He added that people in the crowd were yelling, “Get his gun. Kill him with his own gun.”
“I believe there were individuals in the crowd whose intentions were to kill me … I no longer posed any type of threat” Fanone continued. “But yet they tortured me. They beat me. I was struck with a taser device at the base of my skull numerous times. And they continued to do so until I yelled out that I have kids.”
“And I said that hoping to appeal to some of their — some of those individuals’ humanity and fortunately a few did step in and intervene on my behalf,” Fanone added. “They did assist me back towards the mouth of the tunnel entrance and other officers were then able to rescue me and pull me back inside. But at that point I was unconscious and based off the body-worn camera footage, it’s believed that I was unconscious for approximately four minutes.”
Tuesday’s hearing is part of the panel’s investigation to examine former President Donald Trump’s alleged role in the day’s events, as well as activist groups’ roles, and security failures that allowed the Capitol to be breached.