Officer injured in Capitol riot calls for independent commission

▶ Watch Video: D.C. police officer who defended Capitol says he felt “abandoned” after January 6 insurrection

Newly obtained video by CBS News shows the brutal beating of D.C. Metropolitan Police officer Michael Fanone during January’s Capitol riot

“All holy hell broke loose. The next thing you know, we were just in a hand-to-hand just battle,” Fanone told CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave. His body camera captured the moment as he was pulled into the crowd of rioters and attacked.

“I was tortured. I was beaten. I was, you know, struck with a taser numerous times at the base of my skull. And I posed no threat,” Fanone said. He was forced to the ground, suffered a mild heart attack and a brain injury. Fearing for his life, he called out, “I have kids.”

Six months later, the scars from that day are still with him. Working through the emotional fallout, he’s no longer fighting the mob outside the Capitol but some of the members of Congress he rushed in to protect.

“My initial feelings were feelings of abandonment. I speak to a lot of police officers, and that’s the overwhelming feeling is that we’ve been abandoned,” Fanone said.

Some GOP efforts to downplay the events of January 6 are growing louder. Several members of Congress have promoted conspiracy theories, including one claiming the FBI had a role on January 6 or comparing the riot to a “normal tourist visit.”

Last week, 21 House Republicans voted against a bill to award Fanone and fellow officers the highest congressional honor for their heroism. He thinks it was an attempt to not acknowledge the attack itself. Fanone called that “far more repulsive than voting against giving cops a medal.”

Fanone has become friends with Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger and Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell. The three came together in a joint interview, hoping to show it’s possible to disagree and still get along.

“When you sit here, and you see the strength of Fanone here, you know openly talking about some of the emotional struggles that he has. And as dudes, that’s something we don’t like doing. I’m a military guy. He’s a cop. It’s not something that you know isn’t in our lexicon but it’s important to hear it,” Kinzinger said.

The three all agree on the need for a 9/11-style commission to investigate January 6, but that proposal was blocked by Senate Republicans.

“The bottom line of all of this is cowardice. Because it takes strength to tell the truth. If you believe Antifa and BLM actually attacked the Capitol, you should want a January 6 commission.  If you think the FBI organized the Capitol riots, you should certainly want a January 6th commission. But if you believe that you’ve been lying about it the whole time, then you don’t want a January 6 commission. That’s why we have to do it,” Kinzinger said.

Swalwell said if there is a commission, it needs to be independent to establish its credibility.

“If you’re going to enact policies to make sure this never happens again as the independent, bipartisan September 11 commission did, it has to be independent, bipartisan, and as far away from this building as possible,” Swalwell said.

Months later, Fanone has more questions about that day than answers, and he will not stop until those questions are answered.

“I’m done tiptoeing through the tulips here. The questions I have are to what extent, if any, did our political leaders involve themselves in the events of January 6? If there was participation from members of Congress, from their staff, as an officer that served that day, I certainly would like to know that,” Fanone said. “As an American, I believe very strongly in a two-party system. Right now, one of those parties has a cancer, and we got to cut it out, and until we do that, we’re not going to be able to move forward as a nation.”

CBS News is not aware of any evidence indicating a member of Congress assisted the rioters on January, 6th. Fanone says he is still trying to meet officials who have made comments minimizing the attack on the Capitol and he would like to sit down with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, but says he has not been able to schedule a meeting.

McCarthy’s office says the leader would be happy to meet with Fanone but has not received a meeting request from the officer. 

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