D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone said he was zapped with a stun gun half a dozen times and beaten with metal pipes when the pro-Trump mob pulled him from the U.S. Capitol hallway he was guarding last week.
Rioters were ripping gear off him ― radio, badge, ammunition. Then, he said, “some guy started getting ahold of my gun,” and people began screaming, “Kill him with his own gun.”
“At that point, it was just self-preservation,” Fanone recalled in a harrowing interview with CNN on Thursday. “How do I survive this situation?”
After he told them he had kids, some of the rioters intervened in the attack ― holding off the more violent elements of the crowd just long enough for Fanone’s colleague, Officer Jimmy Albright, to pull him back to the relative safety of the Capitol building.
“A lot of people have asked me my thoughts on the individuals in the crowd that ... tried to offer some assistance,” Fanone told CNN, “and I think the conclusion I’ve come to is, ‘Thank you ― but fuck you for being there.’”
Those and other chilling details have emerged in interviews that D.C. police officers have given since the Jan. 6 violence at the Capitol.
Officer Christina Laury told WJLA that rioters sprayed her in the face with bear mace several times, sealing her eyes shut.
“It’s not only painful,” she said, “but you literally can’t open your eyes and when you can’t open your eyes ... that’s scary.”
Officer Daniel Hodges told the local TV station that he feared for his life several times while defending the Capitol that day.
Hodges was almost permanently disfigured when one pro-Trump supporter got purchase on his eye and attempted to gouge it out. In separate incidents, Hodges was also beaten by the mob outside and crushed in a doorway, his arms pinned to his sides as a rioter ripped away his baton and began beating him with it.
Fanone ended up pulling Hodges to safety.
“It was some medieval shit,” Fanone told DCist, comparing the officers’ heroic struggles to “real-life ‘300,’ minus the six-pack abs” ― an apparent reference to the 2006 film about the Spartans taking their doomed stand against the Persian army. At one point, he said it felt like 30 officers trying to hold off a mob of 15,000.
Elsewhere amid the insurrection that day, rioters hit U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick in the head with a fire extinguisher, killing him.
It’s no exaggeration to say the police officers were defending democracy itself. Federal prosecutors said in a court filing on Thursday that the rioters intended “to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government.”
“I had conspiracy theorists and everyone you could think of yelling at me, saying, ‘Why are you doing this? You’re the traitor,’” Hodges recalled. “We’re not the traitors. We’re the ones who saved Congress that day, and we’ll do it as many times as necessary.”
CORRECTION: This article previously referenced an arrest on assault charges related to the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. In fact, the charges against that individual are unrelated to Sicknick’s death, and the reference has been removed from the article.