A D.C. police officer injured battling pro-Trump rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 is seeking more recognition for those on the front lines and says he is angered by people who “continue to downplay the events of that day.”
He wrote he has “struggled with many aspects of that day,” and said that as his physical injuries from being dragged into a crowd, beaten and attacked with a stun gun subsided, he began to feel “psychological trauma.”
Added to that, the 40-year-old officer wrote, is the “emotional anxiety” he said he feels when people deny that the insurrection that left one Capitol Police officer and four others dead was violent.
“The fighting here was nothing short of brutal,” Fanone wrote in the letter. “I observed approximately thirty police officers standing shoulder-to-shoulder maybe four or five abreast using the weight of their own bodies to hold back the onslaught of violent attackers.”
Fanone declined to comment when reached Wednesday, other than to confirm that he had sent the letter to lawmakers across the nation’s capital.
As the letter spread and showed up on social media, D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III sent a message to all members of the force that officers will be getting a mayoral commendation for valor for “restoring Democracy.” It will be announced May 21 during the mayor’s employee appreciation ceremony, the chief said.
Fanone’s role at the Capitol was described in a Washington Post article that recounted how D.C. police helped the overwhelmed Capitol Police force as rioters stormed the building and temporarily stopped lawmakers from tallying electoral votes to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Fanone was part of a group of officers trying to hold off thousands of rioters trying to break through a door on the west terrace of the Capitol. He was pulled into the crowd, beaten with poles, hit multiple times on the neck with a stun gun, rendered unconscious and suffered a mild heart attack. He was stripped of his badge and radio, and said someone tried to grab his firearm.
He said he heard someone yell, “Kill him with his own gun.”
Three suspects have been arrested in connection with his attack. One is accused of assaulting Fanone with an electroshock weapon, one is charged with trying to steal his firearm and a third is accused of taking his badge and radio.
In his letter, Fanone wrote it has been 119 days since he and 850 other D.C. officers “stopped a violent insurrection from taking over the Capitol Complex saving countless Members of Congress and their staff from almost certain injury and even death. The time to fully recognize these Officers actions is NOW!”
He added, “The indifference shown to my colleagues and I is disgraceful.”
The D.C. Council passed a resolution honoring the officers, and in March the House awarded three Congressional Gold Medals to the Capitol Police, the D.C. police and the Smithsonian Institution to recognize their efforts.
But a dozen Republican lawmakers voted against the resolution, many objecting to use of the term “insurrectionists.”
“We had to combine it with these editorial comments about the January 6 sequence of events, and then we had to logroll it with this exhibit at the Smithsonian, and . . . that was a little much for me,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said after the vote.
At a hearing in February on security lapses, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) blamed “agent provocateurs” and “fake Trump protesters,” and he quoted from an article published on a far-right website claiming a majority of the protesters had a “jovial, friendly, earnest demeanor.”
D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who chairs the public safety committee, said he received Fanone’s letter and responded.
“It is unconscionable for anyone, especially someone in leadership, to try to downplay what happened on January 6, an insurrection where our very democracy was at stake,” Allen said in an interview. “Officer Fanone and his colleagues have every right to be beyond angry when anyone minimizes what they experienced firsthand.”
Allen also said he has had discussions with Contee about getting officers who responded to the riot “the support that they need. What they went through goes well beyond the average day for an officer.”
Michael Brice-Saddler contributed to this report.