WASHINGTON (AP) — “This is how I’m going to die, defending this entrance,” Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell recalled thinking, testifying at the emotional opening hearing of the congressional panel investigating the violent Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Officer Gonell told House investigators he could feel himself losing oxygen as he was crushed by rioters – supporters of then-President Donald Trump – as he tried to hold them back and protect the Capitol and lawmakers.
He and three other officers gave their accounts of the attack Tuesday, sometimes wiping away tears, sometimes angrily rebuking Republicans who have resisted the probe and embraced Trump’s downplaying the day’s violence by supporters who were challenging his election defeat.
Along with graphic video of hand-to-hand fighting, the officers described being beaten as they held off the mob that broke through windows and doors and interrupted the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win.
The new committee is launching its probe with a focus on the law enforcement officers who protected them — putting a human face on the violence of the day.