By MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — When a violent mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, it was law enforcement officers who put their lives at risk to protect Congress and secure the area.
Robert Contee, chief of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, let three of his officers who were on the front lines speak to D.C. ABC affiliate WJLA about their experiences.
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“They have a heroic story and I think the world really needs to know,” Contee told WJLA.
Officer Daniel Hodges, 32, whose platoon had been on duty since 7 a.m., said he feared for his life multiple times that day, including when he was “surrounded” by pro-Trump rioters outside the Capitol building and beaten.
“That was one of the three times that day where I thought: Well, this might be it,” Hodges, a patrol officer in the 4th District, told WJLA. “This might be the end for me.”
Another time, Hodges said, was when their police lines broke on the dais and they had to fall back to the Capitol building.
“We were battling, you know, tooth and nail for our lives,” he said. “We held the line there in that doorway, and I guess I got pinned through the small back-and-forth we had fighting for, you know, every inch. And I had my arms pinned at that point, I wasn’t able to defend myself.”
In a now-viral video that was shared on social media, a bloodied Hodges is seen screaming for help as he is being crushed against a metal door frame inside the Capitol building.
Hodges said one rioter ripped off his gas mask and beat him with his own baton, while another tried to gouge his eye.
“At that point, I was also, you know, sucking in OC and CS gas, so I was pretty disabled at that point,” he said. “I thought, you know, this might be it, I might die and there’s nothing I can do to defend myself at this point. So I just started screaming at the top of my lungs for them to give me a way out, get me a line of retreat. Thankfully someone was able to do that and I was able to extricate myself.”
Officer Christina Laury, 32, who is assigned to the narcotics and special investigations division, said the crowd of rioters was “immediately” aggressive and had already taken over the Capitol grounds when she arrived on scene.
“I don’t think we even understood the magnitude and the amount of people that were actually there,” Laury told WJLA. “By the time I got there, officers were already getting, you know, sprayed with whatever these individuals had, which I believe they had bear mace which is literally used for bears. They’re spraying it at us — human beings — which is, you know, putting us out of service for a while. I mean, I got hit with it plenty of times that day and it just seals your eyes shut.”
“You just would see officers going down, trying to, you know, douse themselves with water, trying to open their eyes up so they can see again,” she added. “And at the same point, these people are still trying to push and gain access to the Capitol.”
Laury said she also witnessed officers on the front lines of the Capitol building getting beaten with metal poles, in addition to be sprayed with bear mace and other chemical irritants.
“They did everything in their power to not let those people in,” she said. “And this was going on for hours.”
Laury said she doesn’t get scared often but admitted, “That was probably one of the scariest days.”
“When you can’t open your eyes and you’re in the middle of what we would call a fight essentially, you know, that’s scary,” she said. “The bravery and the heroism that I saw in these officers — the second they were able to open their eyes, they were back up front and they were just trying to stop these individuals from coming in.”
Officer Michael Fanone, 40, who is part of the crime suppression team in the 1st District, said he and his partner joined the front lines after relieving some of the fatigued and injured officers, even though he said none of them volunteered to leave. He recalled being tased “half a dozen times” and rioters grabbing gear off his vest, ripping away his badge, taking his ammunition magazines and trying to get a hold of his gun.
“I remember guys chanting, like, ‘Kill him with his own gun,'” Fanone, who previously served for the U.S. Capitol Police, told WJLA. “I remember trying to retain it and the thought did cross my mind like, ‘OK, people are trying to kill you and I think this has crossed the threshold of you, you know, defending yourself.’ I thought about killing people.”
Fanone said he told the mob that he has children and some of the rioters began to shield him from others until his partner was able to get him out of the area. Fanone, who said he’s generally in good health, was later hospitalized and learned that he had suffered a mild heart attack.
“I’ve never experienced anything quite like this,” he said. “I don’t think I would have had a heart attack other than getting physically assaulted on Jan. 6.”
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