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Monday, January 24, 2022

Capitol Police Officer Fanone discusses how it feels to see the GOP downplay events of Jan. 6

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“I experienced the most brutal, savage hand-to-hand combat of my entire life,” Fanone said. “Let alone my policing career, which spans almost two decades. It was nothing that I had ever thought would be a part of my law enforcement career, nor was I prepared to experience.”

Fanone, a 19-year police veteran, was brutally attacked and dragged down the Capitol stairs he was defending. Rioters repeatedly beat him with metal pipes and even used stun guns. As a result of the attack, Fanone suffered both a heart attack and concussion. He now has a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. In his emotional interview with CNN, he shared that the language used by some GOP officials was not only “difficult” to hear but depicted a different reality than the truth. 

“It’s been very difficult seeing elected officials and other individuals kind of whitewash the events that day, or downplay what happened,” Fanone said in response to a claim that rioters posed “zero threat.” Fanone continued, “Some of the terminology that was used, like ‘hugs and kisses,’ and ‘very fine people,’ is very different from what I experienced and what my co-workers experienced on the 6th.”

While Fanone did not name Trump directly, Trump has repeatedly claimed that those who stormed the Capitol were harmless and cooperated with law enforcement officials. In an interview with Fox News last month, Trump said they posed “zero threat” to the building.

Trump also alleged that some rioters “went in, and they are hugging and kissing the police and the guards.” This false narrative contradicts video evidence and downplays the severity of the Jan. 6 insurrection during which many lawmakers and police officials shared horrific stories that described the fear they faced and trauma they have developed.  

“I experienced a group of individuals that were trying to kill me to accomplish their goal,” Fanone said during the interview. While speaking, he was clearly choked up. “I experienced the most brutal, savage, hand-to-hand combat of my entire life. Let alone my policing career, which spans almost two decades.”  

While difficult to share, Fanone added that he was happy to be able to give his account of what happened during the failed coup, especially given the narrative he has heard from some lawmakers.

By sharing his story he hopes that people will understand the magnitude of the event and the reality of the insurrectionists’ motives. “I want people to understand the significance of January 6,” Fanone said. “I want people to understand that thousands of rioters came to the Capitol hell-bent on violence and destruction and murder.”

Fanone added that he also wanted people to understand the stories behind the officers protecting the Capitol building that day. “They are moms and dads, sons and daughters. They have children and families.”

At least five individuals died during the riot, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was struck by a fire extinguisher during the event. Dozens of others were injured.

More than 400 people from over 40 states have been charged in connection to the riot. According to CNN, prosecutors filed charges against Thomas Sibick in connection with Fanone’s assault. Sibick was seen in police body camera footage assaulting Fanone as Fanone lay on the ground outside of the Capitol building. After assaulting Fanone, Sibick even posted a photo of himself holding a police shield on Facebook, according to a court filing.

The false accounts Trump and some GOP officials are sharing are dangerous. Given the video footage and other evidence, the insurrection was clearly violent. Downplaying the series of events does no good to anyone in the country and only mocks the trauma of survivors.

Watch Fanone’s heartwrenching interview below.


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