Capitol Riot Body camera footage shows what police faced

US Department of Justice

A man identified by the government as Thomas Webster screams as he and others approach police on January 6 after stepping through a bicycle rack barrier.

WASHINGTON – The video begins with a view from the back of a moving truck. It’s time-stamped in the corner January 6, 2021, 1:53 pm There are at least three police officers seated in the front; two wear helmets. There is no sound. From the perspective of a camera attached to an officer’s uniform behind the back, the viewer can see his hands as he adjusts his gear and gloves.

Two minutes later, after the policemen trotted out of the van and regrouped with other policemen on the street with the Capitol in the background, the sound suddenly turns on. Another agent yells at the group to make sure their cameras are working. The camera picks up the sound of sirens and the muffled roar of a crowd in the distance.

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Police body camera footage shows agents from the DC Metropolitan Police Department arriving at the United States Capitol on January 6.

The 52-minute video is part of a series of police body camera footage that depicts the frontline experience of officers responding to the January 6 riots and being released over the past week. These videos had been referenced in court records and played in court in some of the cases in the assault on Capitol Hill, but they had not been made available to the public. They were eventually released after a coalition of media organizations, including BuzzFeed News, filed a petition with the judges. The latest cache offers new, up-close perspectives on the situation outside the Capitol as an angry mob scrambled to try and break through police lines, hurling flag poles and other projectiles; the deployment of pepper spray; and hurl insults, obscenities and threats against officers. The clips were cited by prosecutors and defense attorneys in different cases, but they all fell within the same hour-long window, starting just before 2 p.m. – minutes before the first rioters broke into the Capitol.

Here’s what the agents saw:

1:58 p.m.

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Agents from the DC Metropolitan Police Department continue to arrive at the scene after a crowd of hundreds of people have already gathered in front of the Capitol, joining the MPD and the United States Capitol Police forces already on square. The officers who had arrived in the van approach the crowd from behind, equipped with protection and helmets and holding their batons in front of them. As they walk through the outer perimeter of the crowd, people call out to them, denouncing them as “traitors”, “pigs” and “oath-breakers”.

They pass a man in a knitted beanie who raises his hands and says, “Peace, man, is peace.” Less than 30 seconds later, the police engage in their first physical fight as they attempt to drive people away, confronting a group including one person holding a skateboard, whom the government has identified as Grady Owens.

2:04 p.m.

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The officers walk through the crowd and arrive at the west side of the Capitol, where there is already a heavy police presence trying to keep the crowd from getting any closer. There is a cloud of smoke on the side; police used smoke bombs and chemical sprays as a method of crowd control. People in the crowd wave an array of flags, including American flags, Trump flags, and Confederate flags. A man shouts into a megaphone at the officers, “How does it feel to be a traitor?

The recording officer appears to have inhaled chemicals or smoke and walks away from the crowd. There is coughing and heavy breathing in the background. Other officers are spaced out, catching their breath; one is kneeling with his head bowed, and the other is bent over with his hands on his knees. A Trump flag on a pole arrives from the crowd towards the police and lands on the ground near the officer carrying the body camera.

2:10 p.m.

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The officers disperse over the square, pouring water into their eyes. An officer walks past and holds up his helmet, which is coated with an orange chemical. “I don’t see any shit,” he said. In the middle of the crowd, there is a tall structure with platforms to build the inauguration stage, on which the people have climbed; a large “Trump 2020” flag flies at the top. Horns and bells ring out above the loud chaos of the crowd, which sometimes erupts into chants of “USA!” UNITED STATES!”

2:28 p.m.

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Officers stand behind metal bicycle racks to keep crowds at bay. The rioters – some fully equipped with protective bulletproof vests, helmets and gas masks, and others with no equipment at all – push against the racks and threaten the police. “Holy shit, motherfuckers,” shouts a man in a red jacket holding a metal pole with a United States Marine Corps flag attached to the officers; he was identified by the government as Thomas Webster. He challenges the officers to remove their equipment, then throws himself at them with the pole; the bicycle rack barrier opens into chaos and more rioters move in. The point of view of the video changes and the recording of the officer is on the ground, trying to push the man in the red jacket away from him.

2:29 p.m.

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After the crowd crosses part of the police line, people flock to other platforms in front of the Capitol which were empty except for the police. A man walks up to an officer with outstretched hands saying, “We are patriots. This is our place. We’re here to send a message. We are here to send a message, not to hurt anyone. Another man then comes from behind him, shouting at the officer for a “fair account”. When the officer tells him to back off, the man replies, “I can’t mate, you’ll have to kill me.”

As the crowd in front of the officer grows, the first man to approach continues to insist that he was just there to “make our voices heard.” Then another person comes out of the crowd and deploys an orange chemical spray on the officers.

Meanwhile, some members of the crowd try to stop the more violent, but they fail. “Get out”, a man with a fully covered face, identified by the government as the accused Brian Mock, repeatedly yells at the police.

2:34 p.m.

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Police try to use riot shields to prevent people from climbing further onto the platforms in front of the Capitol, but that doesn’t always work, and some rioters – including Mock, prosecutors say – push them and throw them the police on the ground.

2:37 p.m.

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As the crowds continue to successfully approach the west facade of the building and occupy platforms on either side, officers climb a series of steps to a higher balcony. A song of “traitors” erupts nearby.

An officer orders the forces of order equipped with a mask to go to the steps to try to prevent the rioters from going up. Another officer can be heard saying, “You have to hold these stairs” as the camera moves towards a smoke-filled stairwell.


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The original van officer eventually ends up inside the Capitol, where dozens of officers are positioned in the hallways. He grabs a stack of paper towels to clean his helmet. Officers who appear to be in a position of authority begin to issue orders.

“Listen to me, it’s going to be old-fashioned CDU if they come in through that door. Can you hear me? “Someone shouts, an apparent reference to the Police Department’s Civil Disturbance Unit. Another person is heard conducting:” Night is passing.

“It’s the United States Capitol Brigade. You hear me? You don’t lose the United States Capitol, ”barks a voice.

The officer walks away from this scene and asks for help to secure his helmet. Then another officer walks up shouting, “We need everyone” and an off camera voice shouts, “They don’t go into this building.”

Alarms and sirens go off in the background. As the officer enters another hallway where the police are gathered outside a door, chants just outside of “USA!” UNITED STATES! “Become stronger.

A woman’s voice can be heard calling over the radio, “Gunshots. The call comes around the same time Ashli ​​Babbitt was shot by an officer just outside the chamber of the House.


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Outside the building, meanwhile, other officers continue to move through the crowd. A bearded man in a camouflage vest identified by the government as the accused Scott Fairlamb shouts at a group of officers as they pass: “You have no idea what the hell you are doing. There is a physical altercation off-camera – Fairlamb is accused of hitting an officer on the head – and a man asks the officers if they are okay.

A woman in a yellow scarf addresses the police in passing: “We are Americans and we are doing this for you,” she said.

More videos are expected to come out as ongoing lawsuits unfold and new cases are filed. Prosecutors said they collected more than 15,000 hours of police CCTV and body cameras as part of the investigation. Attorney General Merrick Garland ad As of Thursday, 500 people have now been arrested for the assault on Capitol Hill, including 100 who are accused of assaulting federal law enforcement.

The latest version of videos is not the first time that police body camera footage has emerged from these cases. Faced with a media petition to court, the government previously agreed in April to release videos of the case of two men accused of conspiring to assault US Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick with a chemical spray; Sicknick died the next day, but the men are not charged with his death and the DC medical examiner concluded he died of natural causes.

Last month, Chief Justice Beryl Howell rejected a request by the media coalition to order the government to release videos introduced in these cases by default, unless objected, instead demanding separate petitions in each case. In most cases, the government and the defense have not opposed the sharing of the videos.

Federico Klein, a former Trump administration official accused of resisting police, obstructing Congress and entering Capitol grounds illegally, is a defendant challenging the disclosure so far. Klein argues that given the volume of negative press he has already received, posting the videos in his case would be “detrimental.” The judge has yet to rule.

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