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Former D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone recalls "frantically searching for ways to survive" on Jan. 6 - "The Takeout"

A Jan. 6, 2021, rioter who pleaded guilty to brutalizing Washington, D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone received a 7 1/2-year prison sentence Thursday. Fanone was dragged, beaten and tased in the melee and suffered a heart attack and traumatic brain injury in the attack.

"I was frantically searching for ways to survive," Fanone told host Major Garrett on this week's episode of "The Takeout."

Former D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett on "The Takeout." Arden Farhi / CBS News

Fanone voluntarily responded to the Capitol riot after marauders overwhelmed undermanned police lines. Body cam footage captures Fanone's excruciating experience — first dragged out of a tunnel by his neck, then senselessly attacked by rioters and shocked with his own taser multiple times.

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"I remember screaming out that I have kids. I thought maybe I could appeal to somebody's humanity," Fanone recalled. That tactic worked long enough for fellow officers to come to his aid.

Fanone left the force last year and has since published a book about his experience, "Hold the Line: The Insurrection and One Cop's Battle for America's Soul." 

"Americans have become indifferent to the idea that this is a diverse country and that people who have different ideologies and political beliefs...can peacefully coexist. And that that's actually what makes this country great," Fanone said. "I don't know how to get back to that, but I think that ultimately it's indifference that is going to be the downfall of America."

Fanone describes himself as "more Trump than Donald Trump. I mean, I drive a pickup truck, I listen to country music, I hunt, I fish." 

He voted for the former president but is now using his platform to talk about Trump's "efforts to subvert democracy."

"I thought that I could help people come to the conclusion that Donald Trump is exactly what he is, which is a dangerous exploiter of democracy and ultimately doesn't represent any of us. He only represents his own self-interest."

That outspokenness has drawn scorn from a relatively small, but vocal faction of Fanone's Trump-supporting former law enforcement colleagues.  "They felt like what happened on Jan. 6 was justified, and that they were supportive of that effort."

Fanone said he's become close to some members of Congress since Jan. 6, including Reps. Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat, and Adam Kinzinger, Republican of Illinois and a member of the House select committee investigating Jan. 6.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also kept in touch with Fanone with text messages and an occasional middle-of-the-night phone call. 

"I attributed it to the fact that she was out on the Left Coast and probably forgot about the time difference," Fanone said. "But I answered nevertheless."

Executive producer: Arden Farhi

Producers: Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson

CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin 
Show email:
Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
Instagram: @TakeoutPodcast

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