Capitol officer Eugene Goodman testifies for first time about Jan 6 attack: ‘Like something out of medieval times’

Officer who steered rioters away from members of Congress describes confrontation with violent mob

Alex Woodward
New York
Tuesday 14 June 2022 00:55 BST
Hero officer leads pro-Trump mob away from Senate chamber during Capitol riot

US Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, who steered a mob away from fleeing senators inside the Capitol building on 6 January, 2021, testified about the assault on Congress for the first time as part of a federal criminal trial for two of the men accused of breaking into the building.

Mr Goodman – whose actions were captured on harrowing, widely shared video – described in US District Court in Washington DC on 13 June how he ran up a flight of stairs after facing down a group of rioters, including a man carrying a Confederate battle flag who “jabbed” Officer Goodman at least three times.

He also testified that he was struck by what he thought was bear spray while rioters tossed objects at him and tried to shake his colleagues off nearby scaffolding.

“It looked like something out of medieval times, where you see one big force fighting another force,” he said.

Kevin Seefried and his son Hunter Seefried were allegedly among the first to breach the building by climbing through a window busted in by a riot shield and wood plank, and “early, aggressive and active participants,” according to prosecutors. They have pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of obstruction of Congress, among other charges against them.

Mr Seefried is accused of leading a crowd that pursued Mr Goodman up the stairs, as the officer sought to draw the mob away from a hallway attached to an entrance to the US Senate used by Republican members and staff, as well as an office for then-Vice President Mike Pence, during a joint session of Congress to certify Joe Biden’s presidential election.

Mr Goodman testified that Mr Seefried taunted him, asking “where the F are the members at?” and “what are you going to do – shoot us?” as they stalked the halls.

“This is our America, you guys need to be on our side, where are they counting the votes at,” the mob told Mr Goodman, according to his testimony.

Mr Seefried allegedly prodded him with the flagpole; widely published images appear to show him carrying the flag inside the Capitol.

“He was very angry, screaming, talking loudly,” Mr Goodman said.

The men have waived a right to a jury trial; US District Judge Trevor McFadden, who was appointed by Donald Trump, will hear testimony and dectermine the outcomes.

Kevin Seefried, second from left, holds a Confederate battle flag during a riot at the US Capitol on 6 January, 2021.
Kevin Seefried, second from left, holds a Confederate battle flag during a riot at the US Capitol on 6 January, 2021. (AP)

Mr Goodman’s remarks follow the chaotic, violent descriptions of the attack presented by Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards to a House select committee investigating the events leading up to and surrounding the assault.

In her statement to the committee’s first televised hearings on 10 June, she called the Capitol grounds “a war scene” and “something like I had seen out of the movies.”

“There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up. I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood. I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage. It was chaos,” she said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think that as a police officer, as a law enforcement officer, I would find myself in the middle of a battle.”

As rioters pressed against a barricade, a bike rack struck her in the head. She can be seen falling down steps in one piece of footage from the attack. She “blacked out” and lost consciousness after hitting concrete stairs behind her, she said.

She also can be seen glancing at her colleague, Capitol officer Brian Sicknick, who had been hit with a chemical irritant. He would later suffer two strokes and die.

During a second impeachment trial for Mr Trump, footage inside the Capitol shows Mr Goodman running towards Republican Senator Mitt Romney to apparently redirect him away from the incoming mob.

Last year, the Senate voted to award Mr Goodman a Congressional Gold Medal. The House of Representatives expanded the honour to all officers who responded to the attack that day.

Five Capitol riot defendants have been convicted thus far, while more than 300 others have pleaded guilty to riot-related offences. Roughly 100 other defendants are due for trials later this year and in 2023. Federal prosecutors have charged more than 800 with crimes related to the assault.

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