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Capitol police officer says "It was carnage, it was chaos" during Jan. 6 public hearing testimony

Capitol officer describes "carnage" of Jan 6. attack
Capitol Police officer describes "carnage" and "chaos" during Jan 6. attack 13:07

A U.S. Capitol Police officer described the Jan. 6, 2021, attack as a bloodied "war scene" as she watched injured colleagues try to push back rioters from the Capitol building. Caroline Edwards, believed to be the first law enforcement officer injured by the rioters that day, testified Thursday to the House committee investigating the attack. 

"What I saw was just a war scene," she said. "It was something like I had seen out of the movies. I could not believe my eyes. 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." 

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think that as a police officer and as a law enforcement officer, I would find myself in the middle of a battle," she continued. "I am trained to detain a couple of subjects and handle a crowd, but I'm not combat trained. And that day, it was just hours of hand-to-hand combat." 

The committee showed video of Edwards holding onto a bike rack as rioters pushed her back toward concrete steps, where she fell and hit her head and was knocked unconscious. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, but once she regained consciousness, she continued to defend the Capitol building and help her colleagues who had been sprayed with chemicals. 

House January 6 Committee Holds First Public Hearing
Caroline Edwards, a U.S. Capitol Police officer injured in the Jan. 6 riot, speaks during a hearing of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, June 9, 2022.  Bloomberg

One of those colleagues was Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died from two strokes the day after the attack. 

"All of a sudden, I see movement to the left of me. I turned, and it was Officer Sicknick with his head in his hands and he was ghostly pale, which I figured at that point, he had been sprayed and I was concerned. My cop alarm bells went off. Because if you get sprayed with pepper spray, you're going to turn red. He turned just about as pale as this sheet of paper," she said. 

Edwards said she was sprayed in the eyes as well with a chemical, and then was teargassed. Her injuries from that day have prevented her from returning to her position with the first responder unit. 

Sicknick's partner, Sandra Garza, attended Thursday's hearing and was accompanied by law enforcement officers who also responded to the attack and previously gave emotional testimony in July about the physical and psychological injuries they sustained. 

At that hearing in July, former D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone, who also attended Thursday's hearing, how was dragged into the crowd, tased and beaten until he was unconscious. He suffered a mild heart attack and brain injury. He has since resigned from the police department. 

Five law enforcement officers have died in connection with the riot. At least 140 law enforcement members were assaulted that day and about 255 rioters have been charged with assaulting or impeding officers, according to the Justice Department. 

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