The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Police union says 140 officers injured in Capitol riot

Trump supporters storming the Capitol on Jan. 6. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

The physical toll on officers who defended the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack by a pro-Trump mob is becoming clearer, with reports by police officials and federal prosecutors indicating that about 140 officers were injured, the head of the Capitol Police officers’ union said.

“I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained head injuries,” Gus Papathanasiou, union chairman, said in a statement Wednesday. “One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake, to name some of the injuries.”

Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick died after trying to defend the Capitol from rioters. One Capitol Police officer and one D.C. police officer who were responding on the scene have died by suicide since the attack.

And since Jan. 6, 38 Capitol Police employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, almost entirely officers and supervisors who responded to the riot, Papathanasiou said.

At least 81 Capitol Police officers were assaulted during the siege of the Capitol, according to filings by federal prosecutors. The filings did not detail injuries sustained by officers, and a Capitol Police spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on officer injuries.

About 65 D.C. police officers also suffered injuries on Jan. 6, including several concussions from head blows from various objects, including metal poles ripped from inauguration-related scaffolding and even a pole with an American flag attached, D.C. police officials have said. Other injuries included swollen ankles and wrists, bruised arms and legs, and irritated lungs from bear and pepper spray.

Reports say officers were pushed down stairs, trampled by rioters, punched and run over in a stampede.

“I’ve talked to officers who have done two tours in Iraq who said this was scarier to them than their time in combat,” acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III said at a news conference earlier this month.

D.C. police officers detail ther fight to defend the Capitol

Papathanasiou said it was “unconscionable” that Capitol Police had a warning about the “strong potential for violence,” including the possible use of firearms, on Jan. 6 — as acknowledged by acting department chief Yogananda Pittman — and did not better prepare the force. “The fact they did not relay this information to the officers on duty prior to the insurrection is inexcusable,” he said.

“The officers are angry, and I don’t blame them. The entire executive team failed us, and they must be held accountable,” he said. “Their inaction cost one officer his life, and we have almost 140 responding officers injured. They have a lot to atone for.”

A spokeswoman for the Capitol Police also did not respond to requests for information on officer coronavirus diagnoses.

Peter Hermann contributed to this report.