'Medieval Battle': Police Testify To US Capitol Riot Probe

By i24
Posted on 07/27/21 | News Source: i24

Hearing to investigate attack on January 6 gets underway on Capitol Hill with harrowing testimony

Wiping away tears, a police officer told a rapt US congressional hearing Tuesday he believed "this is how I'm going to die" while defending the Capitol on January 6 against a rampaging mob branding him a traitor.

Another recalled how he was beaten unconscious by rioters supportive of then-president Donald Trump and said he "went to hell and back" protecting US lawmakers and the citadel of American democracy.

The gripping accounts served as opening testimony in a landmark hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack, which opened with hair-raising videos of the deadly attack.

But it was the dramatic personal recollections of officers under siege by people they described as "terrorists" that set the tone in a closely-watched session.

It was "something from a medieval battle," Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, an immigrant US Army Iraq combat veteran, told the panel, describing how he and colleagues "fought hand to hand, inch by inch, to prevent an invasion" of the building. 

"My fellow officers and I were punched, kicked, shoved, sprayed with chemical irritants and even blinded by eye-damaging lasers by a violent mobs who apparently saw us ... as an impediment to their attempted insurrection," Gonell told stunned committee members.

"This is how I'm going to die, defending this entrance," he recalled telling himself.

Six months after hundreds of Trump's supporters conducted the worst assault on the Capitol building since the war of 1812, the work of the committee has become a major political flashpoint.

Five people died during or shortly after the insurrection, while dozens of police were injured. Two police officers who took part in defending the Capitol later died by suicide.