Capitol officer recounts Jan. 6 ‘war scene’ in her testimony

APTOPIX_Capitol_Riot_Investigation_52376 Serena Liebengood, widow of Capitol Police officer Howie Liebengood, cries as a video of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is played during a public hearing of the House select committee investigating the attack is held on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Washington.
Capitol_Riot_Investigation_63807 This image from video from a police worn body camera from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, was played as a committee exhibit as the House select committee investigating the the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, held a hearing Thursday, June 9, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Capitol_Riot_Investigation_84004 Sandra Garza, the long-time partner of Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick who died shortly after the Jan. 6 attack, reacts as a video of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is played during a public hearing of the House select committee investigating the attack is held on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Washington.
Capitol_Riot_Investigation_79727 Former Washington Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone listens as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Washington.
Capitol_Riot_Investigation_24035 U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn, left, and U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, and others, listen as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022.
Capitol_Riot_Investigation_30735 U.S. Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards testifies as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022.
Capitol_Riot_Investigation_41925 U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn, second from right, and U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, right, listen as U.S. Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards testifies as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022.
Capitol_Riot_Investigation_52014 U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn talks to U.S. Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards after she testified during a public hearing of the House select committee investigating the attack is held on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Washington. U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell looks on at right.
Capitol_Riot_Investigation_06836 U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Harry Dunn tears up as a video of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol is played during a public hearing of the House select committee investigating the attack is held on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Washington.
Capitol_Riot_Investigation_94702 This image from video from a police worn body camera from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, was played as a committee exhibit as the House select committee investigating the the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, held a hearing Thursday, June 9, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Capitol_Riot_Investigation_01608 Gladys Sicknick, mother of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died on Jan. 7, 2021, after having two strokes the day after he responded to an attack on the U.S. Capitol, listens as U.S. Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards testifies as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022.
Capitol_Riot_Investigation_98518 Washington Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges, left, and former Washington Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone, center, listen as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022.
APTOPIX_Capitol_Riot_Investigation_84971 U.S. Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards, left, and British filmmaker Nick Quested, are sworn in as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing to reveal the findings of a year-long investigation, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards described to lawmakers the “war scene” that she and other officers faced when rioters began viciously attacking them on Jan. 6, 2021.

“It was something like 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 in people’s blood.”

“It was carnage,” she said. “It was chaos.”

The raw and graphic testimony from Edwards Thursday night played out in the first public hearing on the findings of the House committee investigating the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think as a police officer, as a law enforcement officer that I would find myself in the middle of a battle,” Edwards said. “I am not combat-trained. That day it was just hours of hand-to-hand combat.”

Her recollections of the day spotlighted the police officers who fought for hours as a violent mob of pro-Trump rioters, some armed with pipes, bats and bear spray, charged into the Capitol, quickly overrunning the overwhelmed police force. More than 100 police officers were injured, many beaten, bloodied and bruised.

Over her shoulder as Edwards testified sat fellow Capitol Police officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell and Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, all of whom testified at a hearing last summer about the violence they endured. There were moments in her testimony that brought Dunn, a 13-year veteran of the force, to tears.

Edwards’ testimony was accompanied by a barrage of never-before-seen footage, testimony and evidence the committee has gathered in the past 11 months to document how then-President Donald Trump’s words and actions led to the assault on the Capitol. Officers are seen in the footage being pummeled with flagpoles, trashcans and bike racks.

“My literal blood, sweat tears were shed in defending the building I spent countless holidays and weekends working in,” Edwards said.

Edwards said she has worked on hundreds of civil disturbances but it quickly became apparent that this one was different. She asked her supervisor for backup.

“I think we’re going to need a few more people down here,” she recalled saying, calling it “the understatement of the century,” as officers were quickly outnumbered by the hundreds of rioters.

She said suffered a concussion after rioters forced a bike rack over the top of her head, pushing her backward. “I blacked out,” she said, adding that she experienced fainting spells for months after the insurrection.

But the moment Edwards recalled most vividly was the moment when she saw fellow officer Brian Sicknick turn “ghostly pale.”

Sicknick, who was injured while confronting rioters during the Jan. 6 insurrection, suffered a stroke and died from natural causes the day after the attack. Members of his family sat alongside officers Dunn and Gonell as Edwards described his injuries. Before she could go to help Sicknick, Edwards said, she was pepper-sprayed by the mob.

Ken Sicknick, one of Brian Sicknick’s brothers, said Friday that Edwards told them in private “what a hero Brian was….that while she was going through the ordeal she was going through, Brian was right there with her.”

“Whenever there was a breach in the line, Brian was filling that breach,” he told CNN. “You know, it’s reassuring to know he was a hero. I just wish he was still here.”

He said Trump “couldn’t care less about my brother. ….We got calls from a lot of politicians after my brother had passed, including Mike Pence. Not one tweet, not one note, not one card, nothing from him.”

Committee vice chair Liz Cheney thanked Edwards and the other officers and their families for being there and assisting in their investigation. The Wyoming Republican noted the sacrifice the officers made that day with the limited resources and equipment they had been given.

“As part of our investigation, we will present information about what the White House and other intelligence agencies knew, and why the Capitol was not better prepared,” Cheney said.

But Cheney pushed back on Republicans who have challenged the Jan. 6 panel to focus more intently on security failures.

“We will not lose sight of the fact that the Capitol Police did not cause the crowd to attack,” she said. “And we will not blame the violence that day, violence provoked by Donald Trump, on the officers who bravely defended all of you.”

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For full coverage of the Jan. 6 hearings, go to https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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