FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol in Washington. An Arizona man seen in photos and video of the mob wearing a fur hat with horns was also charged Saturday in Wednesday’s chaos. Jacob Anthony Chansley, who also goes by the name Jake Angeli, was taken into custody Saturday, Jan. 9. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol in Washington. An Arizona man seen in photos and video of the mob wearing a fur hat with horns was also charged Saturday in Wednesday’s chaos. Jacob Anthony Chansley, who also goes by the name Jake Angeli, was taken into custody Saturday, Jan. 9. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

U.S. Capitol police were overrun, ‘left naked’ against rioters

Officers have been criticized after videos taken by the rioters showed some posing for selfies

Despite ample warnings about pro-Trump demonstrations in Washington, U.S. Capitol Police did not bolster staffing on Wednesday and made no preparations for the possibility that the planned protests could escalate into massive violent riots, according to several people briefed on law enforcement’s response.

The revelations shed new light on why Capitol police were so quickly overrun by rioters. The department had the same number of officers in place as on a routine day. While some of those officers were outfitted with equipment for a protest, they were not staffed or equipped for a riot.

Once the mob began to move on the Capitol, a police lieutenant issued an order not to use deadly force, which explains why officers outside the building did not draw their weapons as the crowd closed in. Officers are sometimes ordered against escalating a situation by drawing their weapons if superiors believe doing so could lead to a stampede or a shootout.

In this instance, it also left officers with little ability to resist the mob. In one video from the scene, an officer puts up his fists to try to push back a crowd pinning him and his colleagues against a door. The crowd jeers “You are not American!” and one man tries to prod him with the tip of an American flag.

“They were left naked,” Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California. said of the police in an interview with AP. She had raised security concerns in a Dec. 28 meeting of House Democrats and grilled Steven Sund, the Capitol Police chief, during an hourlong private call on New Year’s Eve. “It turns out it was the worst kind of non-security anybody could ever imagine.”

The Capitol police’s lacklustre response to the riots, poor planning and failure to anticipate the seriousness of the threat have drawn condemnation from lawmakers and prompted the ouster of the department’s chief and the Sergeants at Arms of both the House and Senate.

As the full extent of the insurrection becomes clear, the FBI is also investigating whether some of the rioters had plans to kidnap members of Congress and hold them hostage.

Investigators are particularly focused on why some of them were seen carrying plastic zip-tie handcuffs and had apparently accessed areas of the Capitol generally difficult for the public to locate, according to an official.

The official was among four officials briefed on Wednesday’s incident who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation publicly.

Larry Rendell Brock, of Texas, and Eric Gavelek Munchel, of Tennessee, who both were photographed with plastic restraints as they broke into the Capitol, were arrested by the FBI on Sunday. Prosecutors said Brock also donned a green helmet, tactical vest and camouflage jacket.

The crowd that arrived in Washington on Wednesday was no surprise. Trump had been urging his supporters to come to the capital and some hotels had been booked to 100% capacity – setting off alarm bells because tourism in Washington has cratered amid the pandemic. Justice officials, FBI and other agencies began to monitor flights and social media for weeks and were expecting massive crowds.

A leader of the far-right extremist group Proud Boys was arrested coming into the city with high-powered magazine clips emblazoned with the group’s logo, police said. The clips were not loaded, but he was planning to attend a rally near the White House.

Capitol police leaders, however, had prepared for a free speech demonstration. No fencing was erected outside the Capitol and no contingency plans were prepared in case the situation escalated, according to people briefed.

Rep. Jason Crow, a Democrat from Colorado, said Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told lawmakers on Sunday that the Defence Department and law enforcement officials had prepared for a crowd similar to protests in November and December, in the “low thousands” and that they had been preparing for small, disparate violent events, like stabbings and fist fights. McCarthy also said Sund and Mayor Muriel Bowser had called for urgent reinforcements from the Defence Department as the crowd surged toward officers but were “unable to articulate what resources are needed and in what locations, due to chaos.”

Waters grilled Sund on exactly these kinds of questions — about the Proud Boys and other groups coming, about keeping them off the Capitol plaza. The police chief insisted they knew what they were doing.

“He kept assuring me he had it under control — they knew what they were doing,” she said. “Either he’s incompetent, or he was lying or he was complicit.”

Those decisions left the officers policing the Capitol like sitting ducks, the officials said, with little guidance and no cohesive plan on how to deal with the flood of rioters streaming into the building.

The department’s leaders were also scattered during the riots. The chief of police was with Vice-President Mike Pence in a secure location, and other high-ranking officials had been dispatched to the scene of bombs found outside the nearby headquarters of the Republican and Democratic national committees.

The rioters had more equipment and they weren’t afraid to use it, said Ashan Benedict, who leads the Washington field division for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and was there that day.

“They had apparently more bear spray and pepper spray and chemical munitions than we did,” Benedict said. “We’re coming up with plans to counteract their chemical munitions with some of our own less-than-lethal devices, so these conversations are going on as this chaos is unfolding in front of my eyes.”

Officers have been criticized for their actions after snippets of videos taken by the rioters showed some posing for selfies, acquiescing to demands by screaming rioters to move aside so they could stream inside the building.

But other videos show officers trying in vain to keep the crowd from breaking into the building. One disturbing video shows a bloodied Metropolitan police officer screaming for help as he’s crushed by protesters inside the Capitol building. The young officer is pinned between a riot shield and metal door. Bleeding from the mouth, he cries out in pain and screams, “Help!”

In another stunning video, a lone police officer tries to hold off a mob of demonstrators from breaking into the lobby. He fails.

One officer died in the riot and at least a dozen were injured. The officials wouldn’t reveal the specific number of officers on-duty over concerns about disclosing operational details, but confirmed that the numbers were on par with a routine protest and day where lawmakers would be present.

READ MORE: Canada weighs listing Proud Boys as terror group after U.S. Capitol riot

Capitol Police officials did brief lawmakers ahead of Wednesday, saying they expected large numbers of protesters to attend a rally near the White House, but offered no indication they were making preparations for an en masse movement of the crowd to the Capitol, according to one Republican congressional aide. Still, they advised lawmakers to plan to use the underground tunnels that connect House office buildings to the Capitol.

Benedict was at the bomb scene when Capitol Police captains there told him their officers were being overrun.

He immediately activated the special response team that was standing by and began to call in every ATF agent who works for him in Washington.

When they began entering the Capitol complex at 2:40 p.m., the hallways were packed with rioters.

Eventually, federal agents were able to secure the Capitol Rotunda.

“We just started moving crowds of people out of the Capitol Complex and then going through one by one, each room and rooms off of rooms, to identify friendlies from hostiles,” he said.

___

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Lolita Baldor, Mike Balsamo, Alan Fram and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo And Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Donald TrumpUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Medical chief of staff Dr. Brad Raison of Penticton Regional Hospital and John Moorhouse of the Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation look over one of the rooms in the David E. Kampe Tower in 2017 while the tower was under construction. (Western News File)
After 46 years in media, Moorhouse retires

Moorhouse spent the last six years as communications director for the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation

Calls for potential overdoses in B.C. spiked in 2020, especially in the Okanagan - Shuswap. Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. (BCHES)
Overdose calls spike in 2020 across the Okanagan – Shuswap

Stats show every major community in Okanagan - Shuswap increased in calls for potential overdoses

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: COVID-19 restrictions continue to affect us all

Canada has recorded more than 700,000 confirmed cases of pandemic

A couple living at the Summerland Waterfront Resort is trying to sell their unit because of strata changes which will require them to pay significantly higher strata fees or have their unit included in the resort’s rental pool (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Permanent residents of Summerland resort must move or face major fee increase

Permanent residents of Summerland Waterfront Resort told fees will more than double

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

Charlotte is one of the resident pigs at Star's Piggly Wiggly's Sanctuary near Kelowna. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Kelowna-area pig sanctuary needs a new home

Star’s Piggly Wiggly’s Sanctuary is looking for properties in Vernon, Coldstream, and Enderby

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

A cow moose wanders around the Silver Star Elementary School neighbourhood Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Contributed)
Public provoking blamed for moose chasing Okanagan residents

‘The problem is people are bugging it’ conservation officer

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Vancouver Island paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Ladybug Landing Child Care Centre in Salmon Arm remains open as one person who was at the facility tested positive for COVID-19. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm daycare owner upset by rumours related to positive COVID-19 test

Ladybug Landing’s Leigh-Anne Chapman impressed by response from Interior Health

The proposed Skaha Lake Road housing project will be modelled after the Burdock House on Winnipeg St., said BC Housing.
BC Housing panel peppered with questions about Skaha housing project

Virtual meeting involved questions about crime, level of supports, timelines

The Regional District of North Okanagan is cautioning residents to watch for rock slides along the Okanagan Rail Trail during freeze-thaw season. (RDNO photo)
Residents urged to watch for rockfalls on Okanagan Rail Trail

RDNO reminds rail trail travellers to heed rockfall warning signs during freeze-thaw season

Most Read