Eugene Goodman describes how January 6 rioters chased him through the Capitol

By on June 13, 2022 0
Placeholder while loading article actions

United States Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman testified in court for the first time on Monday about leading rioters away from fleeing senators during the January 6, 2021 attack, describing how he walked up a flight of stairs after a tense confrontation that began with a member of the crowd who carried a Confederate battle flag.

Goodman, whose actions inside the building that day were captured on video that has gone viral, said the man hit him with the tip of the flag and shouted, “I’m not leaving. . Where are the members ? Where do they count the votes? »

That man – Kevin Seefried, 52 – was quickly joined by a mob that chased Goodman down the stairs and away from a hallway that led to a Senate entrance used by Republicans, staffers and ceremonial offices. of Vice President Mike Pence.

Goodman’s testimony came during the federal criminal trial in Washington of Seefried and his son, Hunter Seefried, 22, of Laurel, Delaware, who are charged with being among the first 15 people to enter the building. Each pleaded not guilty, although at trial attorneys for both men said they would not dispute that they were guilty of misdemeanor trespassing or picketing and parading on restricted Capitol grounds. Instead, they sought to argue that they had no intention of obstructing the work of Congress – which is the basis for a more serious felony charge against them.

In sometimes graphic terms, Goodman described trying to hold down police lines outside the Capitol without any protective gear, as rioters threw objects in his direction. He said he fended off the rioters with his baton and vomited after being hit with pepper spray and tear gas fired by DC police who pushed the officers away.

When DC police arrived in riot gear, Goodman testified that he went to an aid station set up by the Assistants Office. Doctor in the crypt of the building, which is under the rotunda. But he said he had soon to run two floors up as the police radio went haywire with reports of fighting around the building and an untimely—at that time—alarm that the rotunda had been breached.

“I could see officers in riot gear with their backs pressed against the doors, and just a crowd of people pressing against them,” Goodman said of the sight outside the Rotunda doors. Of the west side of the Capitol, the officer said, “It looked like a medieval clash between two opposing forces…between the police and the protesters.”

Goodman’s appearance in a trial before U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden came just four days after fellow U.S. Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards described similarly heartbreaking scenes as ‘She was giving evidence to the House Select Committee investigating the events of January 6.

In prime-time television remarks, Edwards called the construction site that day a “war zone.” She described ‘slipping on people’s blood’ and being blinded by bear spray as she stood next to an officer, Brian D. Sicknick, who later suffered strokes and died.

Goodman spoke publicly about the attack for the first time in January, saying during a podcast hosted by a colleague who was on Capitol Hill during the siege that he relied on his military training and experience in the 101st Airborne Division. of the army – when ‘nothing ever went to plan, ever.

“You never know. It could have easily been a bloodbath, so kudos to everyone who showed restraint when it came to lethal force, because it could have been baaad. Really, really bad,” said Goodman in an interview published Jan. 24 on the “3 Brothers No Sense” podcast, co-hosted by Byron “Buff” Evans, a friend and colleague of Goodman.

The Seefrieds turned themselves in to law enforcement on Jan. 12, 2021. Kevin Seefried admitted carrying a large Confederate flag to the Capitol, saying he usually kept it outside his home, according to an FBI complaint.

In briefing documents, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brittany L. Reed said police witnesses would say the Seefrieds were among the first group of rioters who entered “with the intention of reaching members of Congress”. The group included two high-profile figures who led the charge and have since pleaded guilty: Douglas Jensen, who wore a black T-shirt emblazoned with an eagle and the logo of the extremist group QAnon, and “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley, who carried a spear and wore face paint and a fur cap with horns.

Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman confronts the crowd that broke into the United States Capitol on January 6. (Video: Igor Bobic/HuffPost via Storyful)

Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman speaks publicly for the first time since the Jan. 6 insurrection

“Where do they meet? members of the crowd shouted through a megaphone as they chased Goodman down a marble staircase, according to Goodman and video evidence seized by prosecutors. Goodman led the group to the Ohio Clock Hall, a tiled area outside the doors leading to the Senate chamber, where he confirmed on Monday he knew officers were positioned to provide backup.

Elizabeth Mullin, one of Kevin Seefried’s two assistant federal defenders, said while her client may be in a restricted area, he “did not have the requisite intent” to obstruct the work of Congress.

“Although it was a mistake, a mistake that Kevin Seefried has since regretted, he did not come in because Congress was meeting or counting the votes. He did not intervene to prevent anyone from certifying the election,” Mullin said.

Hunter Seefried’s lawyer, Edson Bostic, said his client “didn’t have harsh words, didn’t threaten anyone” and was not considered “a person of concern” by police.

Meet Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, captured in viral video facing a crowd in the Capitol

Hunter acted “foolishly, perhaps – in terms of a young man’s excitement – but not corruptly with the intention of blocking the certification of the vote”, Bostic said, “and the evidence would not show either more than he aided or abetted the actions of others.”

Hunter Seefried, who normally did not follow politics, was “not even sure that the certification of electoral votes [was] detained in the Capitol building that day,” Bostic said.

Under cross-examination by Deputy Federal Defender Eugene Ohm, Goodman conceded that he did not tell the FBI or say before that he overheard Kevin Seefried asking where the lawmakers were or where the vote count was taking place. Goodman had said in a victim impact statement provided for use by prosecutors in the Jan. 6 cases that after his only confrontation with Seefried, he “had no idea of ​​their intention, and I retreated up the stairs”.

But Goodman explained in response to questions from the prosecutor that he was not referring to why the rioters entered the building, but only to them “for me, in particular”. Goodman acknowledged under questioning by the judge that Seefried might not have asked where the vote count was taking place.

He testified that Kevin Seefried acted aggressively towards him, pointed the mast at him, and feared for his safety, in part because he recognized the teardrop tattoo under Seefried’s eye as a popular tattoo among ex-convicts.

Goodman said one person from the Seefrieds group said, ‘You’ll have to shoot me to keep me out’, and another said the rioters were ‘ready for war’ and asked if Goodman was. Goodman said he didn’t hear any of the Seefrieds join a few members of the group who disagreed with this last man and tried to “explain” him.

Both Seefrieds ignored his orders to leave the building, Goodman said. Of Hunter Seefried, in particular, Goodman said, “I told him to leave. “You need to get out of the building.” And he says “No”. … The whole time, he just had this smirk on his face, like a “we won” kind of face.