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New Radio, Video Footage from US Capitol Riot Shows Coordinated Attack and Officers' Restraint

A protester climbs a barricade during clashes with Capitol police at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 US presidential election results by the US Congress, at the US Capitol Building in Washington, US. (Reuters)

A protester climbs a barricade during clashes with Capitol police at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 US presidential election results by the US Congress, at the US Capitol Building in Washington, US. (Reuters)

In one clip, rioters make obscene gestures at officers and taunt them, refusing to back up or calm down. There are other videos capturing rioters as they grab officers, strike them and shove them aside.

New police radio dispatches and security footage from the January 6 US Capitol riot paint an even sharper picture of how the insurrectionists at times showed little fear of the police as they launched a large and coordinated attack.

CNN reviewed more than 800 videos and audio files, including radio dispatches and security footage, that the House impeachment managers obtained and submitted as evidence for former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.

The House impeachment team obtained the surveillance videos from Capitol Police and the radio transmissions from Washington, DC’s Metropolitan Police for the trial, according to a source familiar with the discussions, which were entered into the trial’s evidence. House impeachment managers — limited in the time they could present their case — used specific moments to present their arguments during the trial, showing horrific violence against police and the movements of attackers as they nearly reached lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence.

Additional footage not used during the trial and reviewed by CNN offers even greater insight and revealed both the ferocity of the rioters as well as the restraint of the officers on the scene.

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Radio dispatches broadcast officers’ distress as rioters broke through barriers and eventually lines of police. As rioters began to overrun the officers, creating an untenable situation, radio waves filled with desperate shouts and requests for back up.

“You’re going to need to get more help up here. We don’t have enough people to hold the line,” one officer said.

“We’re getting fire extinguishers thrown at us from the top … in the upper level of the inaugural deck,” an officer shouted in another clip.

In one dispatch played at the trial, an officer exclaims that the rioters had breached the scaffolding. “They are behind our lines!” he said.

The response, which was not played at the trial, is a calm recommendation that the officers needed to pull back and retreat inside if they must.

“If they’re getting behind you, you don’t have enough resources,” the officer was told.

The videos at times show the rioters had little fear of the police. About 140 officers were injured in the deadly riot on January 6, in which one officer was killed.

Security camera footage near the House chamber shows the rioters waving in reinforcements to come around the corner. Another video shows more than 150 rioters charging through a breached entrance in just a minute-and-a-half. In yet another surveillance tape, nine men in matching tactical gear move as a unit inside the Capitol, at about the same time the FBI says members of the militant right-wing group the “Oath Keepers,” one of several groups that federal authorities have implicated since the riots, made their way inside.

In one clip, rioters make obscene gestures at officers and taunt them, refusing to back up or calm down. There are other videos capturing rioters as they grab officers, strike them and shove them aside.

Body-worn camera footage played during the trial captured officers screaming “Hold the line!” while fighting off rioters surrounding and pushing officers. Other video shows officers crowding a door to the Capitol beating back insurrectionists with batons, while on the other side, insurrectionists fight back with shields.

Another body camera video documents how quickly officers also turned into victims. In a clip shown during the trial, an officer is fighting with a rioter who had gotten hold of the officer’s baton. The video appears to show the officer slip — the camera pointing toward the sky as if the officer is lying on his or her back. A rioter continued beating the officer as other police tied to pull him off.

One of the most horrific scenes shows a rioter standing in front of an officer, grabbing his gas mask and jerking the officers’ head. The officer is simultaneously pushed against a door from behind by the crush of police trying to defend the building.

Other frames captured bloody shoe prints on the concrete outside of the Capitol.

The multiple angles of security footage and body camera also highlight the stunning restraint by police officers, and suggest the riot could have been deadlier had officers acted more aggressively. One rioter, Ashli Babbitt, was shot and killed as she tried to enter a window to the Speaker’s Lobby — the corridor right behind the House chamber. Her death was the only known example of law enforcement turning to lethal force in order to try to stop the insurrectionists.

Prosecutors have charged more than 200 people with federal crimes in connection with the riots.

The video and audio used during the House’s impeachment trial was intended to force senators to confront the violence that had occurred on January 6 — which the managers argued Trump was responsible for inciting. The House managers’ presentation showed senators just how close the riots had come to reaching them as they fled the chamber on January 6.

Trump was acquitted on Saturday, though seven Republicans joined 50 Democrats to vote to convict Trump, 57 to 43, short of the two-thirds majority required.

first published:February 16, 2021, 07:55 IST