“The man who saved the Senate,” Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) tweeted. “Standing ovation and cheers for a true hero, Officer Eugene Goodman.”
Selecting Goodman as Harris’s escort was a powerful acknowledgment of his actions on Jan 6. Footage of a lone Goodman, who is Black, facing down a group of mostly White rioters was widely shared after the attempted insurrection. In the clip, Goodman is shown trying to hold back dozens of rioters, moving swiftly up a flight of stairs as he appeared to lure the group away from the Senate chambers, where lawmakers and staff had taken shelter.
Goodman’s quick thinking probably prevented a violent confrontation and may have saved lives, experts who reviewed the footage told The Washington Post.
He is being considered by lawmakers for the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest awards a civilian can receive in the United States, for his bravery during the assault.
President Biden made multiple references to the riot in his inaugural address Wednesday morning, saying the mob “sought to shake the Capitol’s very foundation.”
“Here we stand, days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to stop the will of the American people,” he said. “It will not happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever.”
Goodman, 40, grew up in Southeast Washington and served in the Army from 2002 to 2006, deploying with the 101st Airborne Division to Iraq for a year. His awards include a combat infantryman badge, indicating he was in ground combat.
Friends described him as a reserved and private person who was wary of the flood of attention that has come his way over the past two weeks. One friend said he had been in hostile firefights and had a reputation for staying calm during emergencies.
As rioters converged on him in the Capitol, Goodman showed significant restraint and situational awareness, checking his surroundings and communicating with fellow officers on his radio while the mob pursued him. Some in the crowd wore symbols of the Confederacy and could be heard yelling “traitor.”
Five people died in the attack, including one of Goodman’s fellow Capitol Police officers, Brian D. Sicknick. The 12-year veteran died a day after police said he physically engaged with the rioters.
Rebecca Tan and Justin George contributed to this report.