US Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards described to lawmakers Thursday night what she could only describe as the “war scene” she and other officers faced when protesters began violently attacking them on Feb. January 2021.
“It was something I’ve seen in movies. I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Edwards said.
“There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. I was slipping on people’s blood.”
“It was carnage,” she said. “It was chaos.”
Edwards’ raw and sometimes explicit testimony was presented at the first public hearing on the findings of the US House committee investigating the US Capitol insurrection.
Their memories of the day represented the last moment in the spotlight for police officers who fought for hours as a violent mob of pro-Trump protesters, some armed with pipes, bats and bear spray, stormed the Capitol, quickly overrun the overwhelmed people. police force. More than 100 police officers were injured, many beaten, bloodied and bruised.
Over his shoulder as Edwards testified were Capitol Police Officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell and Officer Michael Fanone, all of whom testified about the violence they endured at a panel hearing last summer. There were moments in his testimony that brought Dunn, a 13-year veteran of the force, to tears.
Edwards’ testimony was accompanied by a flurry of never-before-seen footage, testimony and evidence that the committee has gathered over the past 11 months to document how former President Donald Trump’s words and actions led to the Capitol Hill attack. Police officers are seen in the footage being attacked with poles, garbage cans and bike racks.
“My literal blood, sweaty tears were shed in defense of the building I spent countless holidays and weekends working in,” Edwards said.
Edwards said he had worked on hundreds of civil disturbances, but it quickly became clear that this one was different. She asked her supervisor for support.
“I think we’re going to need a few more people here,” she remembers saying, calling it “the understatement of the century” as the police were quickly outnumbered by the hundreds of protesters.
She said she suffered a concussion after protesters forced a bicycle rack over her head, pushing her backwards. “I fainted,” she said, adding that she experienced fainting for months after the insurrection.
But the moment Edwards remembered most vividly was the moment she saw fellow officer Brian Sicknick go “ghastly pale.”
Sicknick, who was wounded while facing protesters during the January 6 insurrection, suffered a stroke and died of natural causes the day after the attack. His family members sat beside Officers Dunn and Gonell as Edwards described his injuries.
Before she could go help Sicknick, Edwards said, she was pepper sprayed by the crowd.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think as a police officer, as a police officer, that I would find myself in the middle of a battle,” Edwards said. “I’m not trained in combat. That day, it was just hours of hand-to-hand combat.”
Committee vice chair Liz Cheney thanked Edwards and the other officers and their families for being present and helping with the investigation. The Wyoming Republican noted the sacrifice officers made that day with the limited resources and equipment they were given.
“As part of our investigation, we will present information about what the White House and other intelligence agencies knew and why Capitol Hill was not better prepared,” Cheney said.
But Cheney lobbied Republicans who challenged the Jan. 6 panel to focus more intensely on security flaws.
“Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Capitol Police didn’t make the mob attack,” she said. you.”