A Washington DC police officer who was crushed by a far-right mob during the insurrection at the US Capitol earlier this month has said that he would do it all again to protect US democracy.
“If it wasn’t my job I would’ve done that for free,” Officer Daniel Hodges said in an interview with NBC. “It was absolutely my pleasure to crush a white nationalist insurrection … We’ll do it as many times as it takes."
On 6 January, Officer Hodges responded to a radio call for back-up as pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol building during a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 election results which the president has sought to overturn.
He reached the west side of the Capitol as the siege was underway. In a separate interview with ABC News, Officer Hodges explained how officers were spread across the Capitol after a police line was compromised.
He fell back inside the building and put on a gas mask. But as he reached a tunnel, he was surrounded by a mob who beat him as he was pinned inside a doorway.
“We were fighting with everything we had to push it back,” he told NBC. “I got pinned to the doorway, they ripped my mask off, stole my equipment, beat me up, sprayed me with everything.”
One man took the officer’s baton and beat him with it, while another jammed a thumb into his eye, Officer Hodges said.
“Once I got my mask off I was sucking down tear gas, pepper spray and all that stuff,” he said.
The FBI and Metropolitan Police Department have identified a suspect who “assaulted and used a clear police shield to pin” Officer Hodges, police announced on Friday.
— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) January 16, 2021
A picture is emerging of the scale of the deadly violence at the Capitol from the widely shared footage of the insurrection captured by the rioters themselves along with accounts from police and lawmakers.
The House of Representatives impeached the president on Tuesday for inciting an insurrection. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also opened an “immediate review” of the Capitol’s “security infrastructure, interagency processes and procedures, and command and control”.
Prosecutors warned that “the insurrection is still in progress” as federal law enforcement prepares additional charges against a growing list of rioters.
The Justice Department (DOJ) has opened nearly 300 investigations into the Capitol violence, according to US Attorney for DC Michael Sherwin. As of Friday DOJ had opened 98 criminal cases, most of which involve felonies.
“The cognitive dissonance and the zealotry of these people is unreal,” Officer Hodges told NBC. “They were waving the thin blue line flag while telling us that we’re traitors and calling themselves patriots and then later on beating us with the flags.”
He said: "I had one guy yelling at me, telling me, you know, he paid for my gear, for me to give it to him. We had alleged veterans telling us that they fought their country, that they would never hurt us, but at the same time they were there, hurting us."