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The House panel heard Thursday night from U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, whom it described as the first law enforcement officer to be injured in the Jan. 6 riot.
It also released video of her being violently tackled to the ground by protesters breaking through a barrier outside the Capitol, knocking her unconscious – the first of several injuries she suffered that day.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” she recalled the scene, which she likened to a war zone. “There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding, they were vomiting…I saw friends with blood all over their faces, I was slipping in people’s blood. I was catching people as they were falling. It was carnage, it was chaos, I can’t even describe what I saw.
Several law enforcement officers who responded to the riot, as well as family members of those who died in the aftermath, watched Edwards describe his experience.
Edwards said that as the crowd grew, she told her sergeant “the understatement of the century: ‘Serge, I think we’re going to need a few more people here.'”
Officers in this part of the Capitol grounds seized bike racks to try to keep protesters at bay and buy time for more units to respond.
As officers and protesters clung to the bike racks, she recalls feeling one on her head and pushing her back. Her foot got stuck on one of the concrete stairs behind her and her chin hit the banister, at which point she lost consciousness and her head hit the stairs.
Edwards returned to duty after regaining consciousness, helping treat injured people and decontaminate people who had been pepper sprayed. She eventually picked up the line on the Lower West Terrace, where she said Officer Brian Sicknick was behind her for about half an hour as they tried to hold off protesters.
Sicknick died the following day from what the DC medical examiner ruled of natural causes following two strokes. Her mother, Gladys Sicknick, was at the hearing and could be seen hugging other officers in attendance.
“All of a sudden I saw movement to my left, and I turned around and it was Officer Sicknick with his head in his hands. He was pale as a ghost,” Edwards said, adding that she knew something was wrong because people usually turn red. , not white, after being sprinkled with pepper.
“I looked back to see what had hit him, what had happened, and that’s when I also got sprayed in my eyes,” she said. .
Edwards said another officer began to take her away to decontaminate her, but they didn’t get a chance as they were hit with tear gas. The committee also released a clip of that moment.
Edwards could be seen at the end of the hearing kissing Sicknick’s longtime partner, Sandra Garza, and saying, “I’m sorry you had to see that.”
Earlier, the panel released a 10-minute video that included new graphic footage from the Capitol that day, including provided by a documentarian who later testified.
She suffered head trauma during the riot
In his opening statement, Edwards described his dedication to his work protecting elected officials and said his patriotism has never been questioned to this day. She remembers spending hours – including weekends and holidays – in the scorching sun and freezing snow allowing lawmakers to do their jobs, and shedding blood, sweat and tears to defend the building during the riot.
Edwards invoked his late grandfather, a U.S. Marine who fought in the Korean War and lived the rest of his life with shrapnel still inside his body.
“I am a proud American and will gladly sacrifice anything to make sure the America my grandfather stood for is here for many years to come,” she added.
Edwards suffered a traumatic brain injury during the riot, which prevented her from returning to the Capitol Police First Responder Unit, the committee said. She hopes to return to her duties later this year.
More than 140 officers from the US Capitol Police and DC Metropolitan Police were injured while defending the scene that day, according to a statement released Thursday by the Capitol Police Labor Committee. the United States. Four officers died by suicide following the attack.
Gus Papathanasiou, chairman of the Capitol Police Officers’ Union, said officers were monitoring the hearings and hoped they would urge Congress to provide the force with more support and resources to deal with “the high-threat environment.” she faces every day.
He said the number of threats made against members of Congress rose from around 5,200 in 2018 to more than 9,600 last year, and a security review found the USCP needed to hire 884 additional agents.
It’s not just about hiring more officers, but retaining the ones that exist, he added, urging Congress to address the “glaring disparity” in pension benefits between the USCP and the other federal law enforcement agencies.
Papathanasiou said the force was also seeking to hold multiple parties accountable – including its intelligence chief, who remains in his post even after a vote of no confidence, as well as “who carried out the attack and those who conspired to make it happen. occur”.
“We hope the Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute all those who assaulted our officers and those who threatened the peaceful transfer of power,” he added.