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Fanone resigns from D.C. police force 11 months after battling rioters at Capitol

D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, center, wipes his eyes after President Biden signs an act to award the Congressional Gold Medal to officers who fought rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
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Michael Fanone, the D.C. police officer who was dragged into a mob and beaten during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and later publicly excoriated lawmakers and others who downplayed the attack, said he submitted his resignation from the force Monday.

The 41-year-old officer will officially depart on Dec. 31, after using previously acquired leave. Fanone, whose frequent appearances on national television caused consternation among police commanders, said he will be an on-air contributor to CNN on law enforcement issues. A CNN spokeswoman confirmed his new role.

Fanone, who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 but did not support his reelection bid, spent months after the Jan. 6 riot repeatedly warning about threats to democracy, often alongside CNN anchor Don Lemon.

But his public appearances did not sit well with some fellow officers, who, according to Fanone, derided him in private Internet chat forums for police.

“Clearly there are some members of our department who feel their oath is to Donald Trump and not to the Constitution,” Fanone said Monday. He said there are just two current D.C. police officers he still counts as friends. “I no longer felt like I could trust my fellow officers and decided it was time to make a change.”

How battered D.C. police made a stand against the Capitol mob

A spokeswoman for D.C. police said the department would not comment. The office of Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) did not respond to a request for comment.

Fanone had spent months recovering from the physical and emotional aftermath of the Jan. 6 events, and he returned to limited duty in September. He had wanted to work at the training academy but was assigned to a division that analyzes crime statistics.

He expressed disappointment with that job, saying he believes commanders were trying to shield him from fellow officers who were critical of his public stature. Fanone said it instead made him feel “like a child who did something wrong and was being tolerated.”

His full police arrest powers and firearm were returned to him earlier this month, a milestone he said was important to push back against people who might accuse him of being forced out. He said his departure comes five years before he can retire with a pension.

Fanone, who joined the force about 20 years ago, answered a citywide emergency Jan. 6 and rushed to the Capitol to fend off the pro-Trump rioters. He was dragged off the West Terrace, pummeled unconscious with fists and poles and repeatedly stunned with a Taser on his neck. He suffered a heart attack and a traumatic brain injury.

His police radio, badge and bullet magazine were ripped off, and one person tried to yank the gun from his holster. “We got one! We got one!,” a rioter yelled, “Kill him with his own gun!”

Fanone was dragged to safety and later recounted his story to The Washington Post and on television, becoming an instant symbol of a police department that had come to the rescue of the overrun Capitol Police, and in the words of D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III, “saved democracy.”

Fanone continued to speak out, often without required permission from the department, discussing his slow recovery from physical and emotional trauma as well as his growing disdain for people and lawmakers who didn’t agree a riot had occurred.

Police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 testified before Congress on July 27 about their experiences. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)

Jan. 6 hearings open with visceral accounts of Trump supporters’ assault on police

In July, he joined other officers testifying before Congress about their experiences. He slammed his fist on the table, saying, “Nothing, truly nothing, has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny the events of that day. And in doing so, betray their oath of office.” He later stood next to President Biden as he signed the bill to award officers who fought the mob the Congressional Gold Medal.

Fanone also joined a Capitol Police officer and toured offices on Capitol Hill seeking to meet with lawmakers who voted against awarding the medal to officers. He jumped into an elevator with one representative who voted no, and said that lawmaker had refused to shake his hand.

On Monday, Fanone said he had no regrets about his public actions over the past several months, viewing speaking as necessary and “as a continuation of my service” as a police officer who was at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Fanone did not criticize department commanders or other police leaders, but said that “in a lot of ways, our department has forgotten about Jan. 6 and has allowed itself to become distracted from what happened.”

He said, “All I do is serve as a reminder of that.”

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