A common theme in the official narrative of January 6 is that the police acted heroically that day and suffered violent, unprovoked attacks by Trump supporters for hours. While some officers undoubtedly showed courage in trying to protect the building and lawmakers when a handful of violent protesters attacked them, the officers in many cases were the instigators, leading to unnecessary physical confrontations with peaceful Americans gathered in a public building.
Security camera footage shows how Capitol and DC Metropolitan Police officers ambushed nonviolent protesters gathered in the Capitol building rotunda shortly after 3:00 p.m. on January 6, 2021.
Cameras located at the north and south ends of the Rotunda capture people walking through the public area, carrying flags and taking photos with their mobile phones. No one seems to be destroying government property or assaulting the police. (Members of the Oath Keepers had just left the Rotunda; a second group entered around 3:17 p.m.)
At 3:02 p.m., about 15 minutes after Capitol Police Officer Michael Byrd shot and killed Ashli Babbitt, a group of Capitol Police officers entered the south end of the rotunda and began physically pushing and grabbing people inside. A man appeared to be an elderly person. Several D.C. Metropolitan officers, dressed in head-to-toe riot gear, followed the Capitol officers and helped push the group toward the north wall. (Law enforcement had used non-lethal munitions, including tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades against a large crowd of protesters gathered on the building’s west lawn for nearly two hours at that point. Officers also deployed chemical gas inside the building just outside a Rotunda entrance; some individuals can be seen coughing and rubbing their eyes.)
At 3:05 p.m., a separate team of DC officers charged through the east gates and physically engaged protesters, including women. A minute later, officers dragged away someone who had been shot in the melee. Several fights occurred when DC officers pushed, and in some cases punched, individuals who had committed no crime other than misdemeanor trespassing. Another individual can be seen lying on the ground after being tackled by the police. A small group of ATF agents and what appear to be FBI SWAT agents carrying rifles also entered the Rotunda:
Footage from a DC Metro officer’s body-worn camera offers an eye-level view of what happened during the ambush:
The physical confrontations continued for several minutes. At no time did the police appear to attempt to arrest anyone or guide the protesters. many of whom had never been in the building, outside the area:
The conduct of DC police inside the Rotunda (and other areas of the Capitol) violated the city’s use-of-force rules: “All members who find themselves in a situation where the possibility of violence or resistance to lawful arrest is present shall, if possible, first attempt to defuse the situation through advice, warnings, verbal persuasion, tactical communication, or other departmental de-escalation techniques.” directive orderly “Members should attempt to defuse use-of-force situations with de-escalation techniques whenever possible. Resistance and response are dynamic. The subject’s behavior and use of force to control the subject may increase or decrease during any altercation until complete control of the subject is achieved.”
More body camera footage revealed how officers escalated the tension between police and protesters. Women can be heard screaming in pain as officers used batons to beat and pin people against a wall. “I can’t go anywhere!” one man shouted as the police continued to push the protesters:
It is clear that the police, on numerous occasions, did not follow proper protocol on January 6th. The use of physical force and non-lethal ammunition on protesters gathered outside who posed no threat of violence led to many clashes on 6 January. Not only was the aggressive behavior of the DC and Capitol Police inside the Rotunda unwarranted, taking people completely by surprise, but the building had not been evacuated to the Rotunda. personal sound; officers should have ushered people out to clear the premises and allow Congress to resume proceedings.
It’s unclear whether D.C. police officials conducted any use-of-force investigations related to the Jan. 6 incident.