Washington, DC (WorkersCompensation.com) – Police chiefs for law enforcement agencies in Washington, D.C. that responded to the Capitol Riots on Jan. 6 estimate that more than 140 officers were injured in the attack on the Capitol.
Testifying before Congress recently, acting Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Robert Contee said that 65 MPD officers had filed injury claims, but many more had not.
“Sixty-five MPD members sustained injuries documented in injury reports. Many more sustained injuries from the assault – scratches, bruises, eyes burning from bear mace – that they did not even bother to report,” he said in written testimony. “People around the country and the world were shocked and moved by the video of MPD Officer Michael Fanone being beaten by a crowd of insurgents, including one wielding an American flag, and of Officer Daniel Hodges in agony as he was crushed between a door and a riot shield. Their fellow officers at MPD and elsewhere are proud of their bravery in the face of this unprovoked and vicious attack.”
Five people died during the attack, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. After the attack, officer Howard Leibengood, also with the Capitol Police, took his own life. During the hearing, Contee also revealed that an MPD officer, Jeffery Smith, had also committed suicide after the attack.
“That was a very sad and tragic situation for us,” Contee said during a press conference on Wednesday. “He had been injured as a result of the confrontation that had occurred at the Capitol and a couple of days after that, the officer, he took his life.”
The chairman of the United States Capitol Police Labor Committee, the department’s union, Gus Papathanasiou, estimated the total number of officers injured (from Capitol Police and MPD) to be 140.
“I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained brain injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs. One officer is going to lose his eye, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake,” Papathanasiou said, according to NPR.
His statement followed testimony by acting Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman before the House Appropriations Committee, where she apologized for the department’s failure to prepare for the attack despite knowing in advance that the scheduled protest included members who could pose a threat.
“Let me be clear: the Department should have been more prepared for this attack. By January 4th, the Department knew that the January 6th event would not be like any of the previous protests held in 2020. We knew that militia groups and white supremacist organizations would be attending. We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event. We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target,” she said in her prepared remarks. “The Department prepared in order to meet these challenges, but we did not do enough. Based on the information we had about the event, the Department changed its existing operational plan for January 6th. It required all available officers to be working that day. It increased the number of Civil Disturbance Units scheduled to work the event from four to seven, including four hard platoons equipped with less lethal munitions. It activated its SWAT team to extract violent demonstrators or those with weapons from the rally and to engage in counter sniper activity. It also adapted a new security perimeter based on instructions it received from the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms.”
Pittman said that former USCP Police Chief Steven Sund had on Jan. 4 requested that the Capitol Police Board, an oversight group, declare a state of emergency on Jan. 6 and request assistance from the National Guard.
That request was denied.
Officers are still suffering, physically and emotionally, as a result of the attacks, she said.
“I visited every roll call to meet with officers in the days following my being sworn in as Acting Chief of Police. Many are suffering from PTSD, particularly after the loss of two of our officers directly and indirectly as a result of the events of January 6th. And since January 6th, they’ve been working around the clock to prepare for future events, including the inauguration,” she said.
Services to help the officers and their families are being provided, she said.
“The Department has EAP on site to offer counseling services to officers and their families. The Department also has trauma counselors specialized in dealing with military and law enforcement PTSD. Finally, due to the uptick in COVID-19 infections following the January 6th event, the Department has provided onsite testing for USCP personnel and is seeking additional sources for COVID-19 vaccinations,” she said.