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Investigating the Insurrection: Frontline Officers Give First- Hand Accounts of Capitol Riot. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 27, 2021 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:00:13]

OFC. HARRY DUNN, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: I'd like to thank the American people for all of the support that they have provided these past several months to me and my fellow officers.

Lastly, to the rioters, the insurrectionists and the terrorists of that day, democracy went on that night. And still continues to exist today. Democracy is bigger than any one person and any one party. You all tried to disrupt democracy that day and you all failed.

Thank you again for the opportunity to testify and I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS), CHAIRMAN, SELECT COMMITTEE ON JANUARY 6TH ATTACK: Thank you very much. I thank all of the witnesses for their testimony.

The rules we established allowed you the opportunity to tell your story. There is no question about it. You've done it in your own words. We appreciate it.

And so what we will do now is began our questioning of you. I now recognize myself for questions.

At the time of the attack on Capitol, I was in the gallery observing the proceedings on House floor while members of Congress were being protected by the police. You, the patriots, protecting the Capitol in our very democracy -- we're being attacked by the mob outside.

I want to learn more about what you did and what you witnessed.

Officer Fanone, as a narcotics officer, you weren't supposed to be at the Capitol on January 6, is that right?

OFC. MICHAEL FANONE, DC METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes, sir, that's correct.

THOMPSON: What prompted you to come to the Capitol?

FANONE: I mean, I was listening to the radio transmissions specifically those coming from now Commander Robert Glover who was the on scene commander, if you listen to those transmissions, he identified himself as Cruiser 50.

I heard things that I had never heard before in my law enforcement career. In addition to the numerous distress calls or 1033s that I heard, which are while not commonplace, also not uncommon in policing. I heard things like, you know, the declaration of a citywide 1033. Which in my career, to my recollection, has only been utilized in addition to 9/11 attacks on the navy yard attack.

And so I found that particularly distressful. Also you could hear the tone of the individual officers' voices. They were scared. They were, you know, clearly outnumbered and being violently assaulted.

THOMPSON: Thank you. So basically the radio traffic, the 1033 signal on the radio and your basic law enforcement instincts said your fellow comrades needed help and therefore, you made your way along with your friend to the Capitol?

FANONE: Yes, sir.

THOMPSON: So, so you went anyway. And let me thank you for that. And I understand a number of other people did the same.

Officer Hodges, we've seen the harrowing video of you being crushed in a doorway as you bravely fought to keep the mob from breaching the Capitol. Many of your fellow officers acts of heroism were not captured on video and are not therefore known to the public.

Could you please share with the committee other acts of heroism by your colleagues on January 6 that you're aware of?

OFC. DANIEL HODGES, DC METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: Absolutely. One of my sergeants, Sergeant Brian Peak (ph), while maintaining control with the barricades on the west terrace -- the west terrace was struck by a rioter and fractured and severely lacerating his right index finger.

He kept in the fight for several more hours after that. He put some tape on it and a napkin and went back to work. He was there for several hours before finally accepting medical evac. He ended up having to have the tip of his finger removed.

Another officer who was out there in the fight with us, he much like myself, he had a large heavy object thrown and struck his head.

[11:05:08]

And he wasn't as lucky as me. He has suffered lost time from that day. And he remained still out on medical leave even today he has not returned to work. But at the time, he was still fighting.

Another officer, he was on the west terrace and into the tunnels, instrumental to the defense after being completely soaked with the spray was shocked several times by a cattle prod one of the terrorists brought with them.

When I went over my testimony, my opening statement before, I mentioned that we were attacked outside of the secondary defense line on the west terrace and after we rallied there, we continued on ward. I know that another officer found a Capitol police officer was being dragged out into the crowd and he was unable to signal to us what was going on. So he charged in there by himself and got that officer back out of there, and in the process, hyper-extended his knee and took several other injuries.

I, you know, "The Washington Post" and Carnegie Mellon University have estimated there were by 9,400 terrorists out there and I would say we have about 150, 175 officers. So, any one of them could tell you any amounts of heroic acts or injuries they sustained, but these are just a few that I know of.

THOMPSON: Thank you very much.

Officer Gonell, you talked about your tour in Iraq and what-have-you and thank you for your service.

Could you give the committee a sense of comparing that -- those two experiences with what you experienced on January 6th?

SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: Sure. Back when I was in Iraq and sometime on convoy mission to provide mutual support or taking care packages and what not to all of the units and in detachment and whatnot, we went to roadside bomb, infested IED, what not, convoys, whatnot, and minefield were minimal around that time. It was not as constant. I know we knew at that time that we could go over, run over an IED and that was it. But at least we know that we were in a combat zone.

Here in our country, in our very own Capitol, we are being attacked, not once, but multiple times. We had --

THOMPSON: Can you pull the microphone to you just a little bit?

GONELL: Sorry.

Not only were we attacked one time but with multiple times over and over, different people. They hit us and then they got tired of hitting us and then they switch, somebody else rotating in and out. And as my colleagues also had said, we were at the lowest tunnel and we didn't have a chance to rotate ourselves after an hour and a half later.

So, whoever was there, we were fighting for our lives. We were fighting to protect all of you in our mind, at that time, at that entrance, that was it. That was the point of breach. And we were not letting them in.

They tried to convert us. They tried to persuade us to let them in. Yelling and then once they saw that they were not doing that, they continued to attack us even more. And it was nonstop.

So my time compared to Iraq, totally different. This is our own citizens. People who we sworn an only to protect but yet they are attacking us, with the same flag that they claim to represent. It was bad. THOMPSON: Thank you.

Officer Dunn, you talked about being called the N-word. You talked about being talked about like you've never heard before.

[11:10:03]

And you talked about sharing comments from the other colleagues as a well as the seeing of the Confederate flags and other things carried through the Capitol.

As an African-American law enforcement officer, can you give us this committee and those who are watching, how you felt defending the Capitol on that day being called that and seeing the symbols of the Confederacy going through the Capitol at the same time?

DUNN: Yes, sir, thank you for your question.

To be frank, while the attack was happening, I didn't view it -- I wasn't able to process it as a racial attack. I was just trying to survive that day and get home. When I did have a moment to process it, I think that is in the rotunda where I became so emotional because I was able to process everything that happened.

And it was just so overwhelming and it is so disheartening and disappointing that we live in a country with people like that, that attack you because of the color of your skin. Just to hurt you. Those words are weapons.

Thankfully, at the moment, it didn't hinder me from doing my job. But once I was able to process it, it hurt. It hurt just reading it now, and just thinking about it. That people demonize you because of the color of your skin.

When my blood is red, I'm an American citizen. I'm a police officer. I'm a peace officer. I'm here to defend this country. Defend everybody in this building, not just the members or the staff, guests, and everybody.

It just hurts that we have people in this country that result to that regardless of your actions and what you desire to do and to make a difference out there is disheartening so --

THOMPSON: Thank you, but because of your heroism on that day, lives were saved and our democracy was preserved in large part because you gave the all, all of you, for that day on January 6.

I assure you this committee will ensure there is a comprehensive account of your heroic acts of that day and your testimony this morning is an essential part of that record. Thank you for your service to this country and for coming before us today.

The chair now recognizes members for questions. They may wish to ask the witnesses.

The gentlewoman from Wyoming, Ms. Cheney, is recognized. REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And again

thank you to all of the witnesses for your heroism and your bravery that day and also for being here today and telling your story.

And I certainly join the chairman and every member of this committee in our commitment to making sure we get to the truth and that those who did this are accountable.

Officer Gonell, I would like to ask you, you describe in your testimony that it was -- you said it was like a medieval battlefield. That what you were subjected to that day was something like a medieval battlefield. You said we fought hand to hand and inch by inch to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob intent on subverting our democratic process.

And is it the case that as you were fighting there, you were not aware that the Capitol had been breached elsewhere, I believe you said that you really thought that was -- you were the last line of defense, is that right?

GONELL: That is correct, ma'am.

CHENEY: And so, Officer Gonell, when you think about that and share with us the vivid memory of the cruelty and the violence of the assault that day, and then you hear former President Trump say, quote, it was a loving crowd, there was a lot of love in the crowd. How does that make you feel?

GONELL: It's upsetting. It is a pathetic excuse for his behavior for something that he himself helped to create this monstrosity. I'm still recovering from those hugs and kisses that day that he claimed that so many rioters, terrorists, were assaulting us that day.

[11:15:01]

If that was hugs and kisses, then we should all go to his house and do the same thing to him. To me, it is insulting, it is demoralizing because everything that we did was to prevent everyone in the Capitol from getting hurt.

And what he was doing, instead of sending the military, instead of sending the support or telling his people, his supporters to stop this nonsense, he egged them to continue fighting. I was in the lowest west terrace fighting along these officers and all of them were telling us Trump sent us. Nobody else, there was nobody else, it was not Antifa, it was Black Lives Matters, it was not the FBI, it was his supporters that he sent them over to the Capitol that day. And he could have had done a lot of things.

One of them was to tell them to stop. He talks about sacrificing, sacrifices, well the only thing that he has sacrificed is the institutions of the country and the country itself all for his ego because he wants to continue to -- he wants the job, he doesn't want to do the job. And that is a shame on him, himself.

CHENEY: Thank you. Officer Fanone, you talked in your testimony about the fact that the

line that day was the seat of American democracy, was the seat of our government. Can you talk about as you think now about what was under threat, first of all, did you know it? Do you have a sense at the time as you were going through the battle before the horrific violence happened to you, of the nature of the gravity of the threat that we were facing, that the line was in fact the seat of American democracy.

FANONE: Well, my response that day really was based off of my obligation as a police officer to not only protect the lives of the members of Congress and their staff, but also to my fellow officers. The politics of that day didn't play floor my response at all.

CHENEY: Thank you.

Officer Hodges, in your testimony you talk about when you were at the ellipse and you mentioned the significant number of men dressed in tactical gear attending the gathering, wearing ballistics vests, helmet, goggles.

When you saw that, was that something that you anticipated at all and could you tell us more about that crowd there at the ellipse, the extent to which you saw people who clearly were in military or paramilitary garb.

HODGES: It was absolutely source of concern. Like I said, they had vests designed to carry ballistic shielding, helmets, goggles, face masks, backpacks filled with unknown objects. And that I couldn't get a count and we couldn't stop and search everyone. But so I don't know how many there were. But I know that there was obviously concern of mine.

CHENEY: Thank you very much. And then finally, Officer Dunn, you mentioned the text message that you received. And you expressed some surprise. You mentioned that you had not seen any intelligence that would have led you to believe that we should expect that kind of violence. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

DUNN: Yes, ma'am. So, we were expecting civil disobedience as we do at the Capitol, at least that was what relayed to us, a couple of arrested, name calling, you know, unfriendly people. But nowhere near the level of violence, or even close to it that we experienced.

When I received the text message, it made the hairs on my neck rise, but since our chain of command had not told us to prepare for any of these levels of violence, I was just like, okay, whatever. Like I've been here, I started here 14 in November and dealt with hundreds of protests where people get arrested and for peaceful First Amendment protests. Everybody has the right to protest.

Okay. Do what you do. And you know, we'll arrest if you if you break the law and we'll go home later that night.

[11:20:00]

It was a lot different than that. But I was not alerted to the level of violence like the text message I got foreshadowed that, looking back. But I was not -- we were not prepared for what we faced that day.

CHENEY: Thank you.

And, Mr. Chairman, without objection, I would like to unanimous consent if we could enter that complete text message into the record.

THOMPSON: Without objection, so ordered.

CHENEY: Thank you.

And, again, I would like to express hi deep gratitude for what you did to save us and it won't be forgotten and we'll get to the bottom of this. And thank you very much.

And with that, I yield back.

THOMPSON: Chair recognizes gentlewoman from California, Mrs. Lofgren.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thanks to each one of you and your colleagues for what you did.

I was on the floor of the House, helping to defend the voters of Arizona to a challenge to their electors while you were out trying to keep a violent mob from invading the Capitol.

So I really do -- I want to thank you for your tremendous courage and stamina and heroism. Not just for myself, I chair the House Administration Committee and I know how many others work in this Capitol not only the staff to the members of Congress, but the food service workers who were present and clerical staff, you saved them as well. And so they also owe you a debt of gratitude.

I do realize that ultimately the rioters breached the Capitol. But the time that you kept them out really made a tremendous difference. You saved the day. You saved the constitution. And it made a tremendous difference for our country.

And, Officer Dunn, I did hear you about the need for additional help and I want to pledge to you that we will work with the Capitol police to make sure that the resources and the mental health unit has the resources that officers need. I'll make that pledge to you right now.

I would like to ask Sergeant Gonell, and not everyone knew that you were fighting in the hallway near the lower west terrace on January 6. Can you tell me what you went through on that hallway and then while you were there metropolitan police arrived for -- to help you out? What difference did that make?

GONELL: Sure, ma'am.

Before I start, by no means am I suggesting that we go to his house. I apologize for my outburst.

After we retreated to the lower west terrace entrance, it was rough. It was terrible. Everything that was happening to us was simultaneously, and we didn't have a lot of support. We had probably like 50 officers at most when we went back in.

And once we were there, we decided to say to ourselves, this is the entrance, where they're going to try to breach. We're going to hold the line. And we're going to do everything possible coordinating among ourselves. The people, the few officers who were still carrying shields, we automatically assumed position in the front.

Some of the shields were taken, ripped apart from the officers hand, some of the officers also got concussed because they were hit with the same shields they were holding because that was so violently taken from them that they couldn't -- they were concussed.

We did multiple struggles in terms of fighting. My shield was round and I was able to get some strikes. But because we were so close quarters, it was hard for us to even do that.

The only thing we were allowed to do was push forward. Whoever had shields, stay in the front, and whoever was behind the people with the shield, then they were striking those officers -- those rioters. At some point, I fell on top of the floor -- on the floor with -- on top of some shields, trying to help and assist some of the officers.

And I got pulled to the crowd. Luckily, I was able to free myself and stand up.

[11:25:05]

Later on, the second time I went back to the front, that is when I, Officer Hodges, was getting trampled. I was getting trampled because just the mere force of the rioters pushing forward and police officer pushing out, we were getting trampled in the middle. So it was very terrible that happened to us there.

LOFGREN: Officer Fanone, before I ask you a question, I would to show a brief video clip, some of what you went through today. I realize this could be difficult to watch. But I think it is important for the public to see.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS, SELECT COMMITTEE EVIDENCE)

LOFGREN: Almost all of that was from your body camera footage. Can you walk us through what we've just seen, Officer Fanone.

FANONE: Well, I believe the first portion of that video began, that was my body worn camera footage from the crypt area of the Capitol rotunda. It was there I first heard the 1033 or distress call come out from the lower west terrace tunnel which I didn't realize at the time was only a few hundred yards away from where I was at.

I told my partner, Jimmy Albright, who was there with me that there was a 1033 coming out from the lower west terrace. We tried to get our bearings and figure out which way that might be. We asked a group of Capitol police officers and they directed us down a set of stairs. From there, Jimmy and I walked down to the lower west terrace tunnel.

The first thing I remember was seeing a buddy of mine, Sergeant Bill Bogner (ph), who is a administrative sergeant, he used to work in my district, now he works over at the academy.

And he was unable to see, he had been spayed in the face with bear mace. And I went to him and told him, hey, it's Fanone. I remember he stretched his hand to shake mine, that's when he told me that the guys that were just beyond that set of double doors had been fighting there for I believe he said about 30 minutes.

And I don't think he realized what time it was because they had been fighting since around 1:00 p.m. It was 3:00. So those guys had been there fighting for two hours unrelieved.

I remember looking up through the set of double doors, there was glass panes, and you could see the CS gas white powder still lingering in the air. It was at that point that I realized I probably should have brought my gas mask.

So I went through the double doors and I saw Ramey Kyle (ph) who is at the time a commander with our criminal investigations division overseeing all of the detectives units. Like many other officers, sergeants, lieutenants, captains that day, he self deployed and found himself commanding a group of about 30 or 40 officers there in the lower west terrace tunnel.