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2 U.S. Capitol Police officers sue Trump over January 6 assault

FBI videos show "most egregious" riot attacks
FBI releases videos of "most egregious" U.S. Capitol riot attacks 01:51

Washington — A pair of U.S. Capitol Police officers are suing former President Donald Trump over his conduct related to the January 6 deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol, arguing Mr. Trump's repeated claims of election fraud spurred the attack from the mob of his supporters that caused them physical and emotional injuries.

Officers James Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the Capitol Police, and Sidney Hemby, an 11-year veteran of the force, filed their complaint in the federal district court in the District of Columbia on Tuesday, arguing Mr. Trump "inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed and aided and abetted" the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol. Blassingame said he was repeatedly called racial slurs by the rioters during the attack, and the two officers suffered injuries as a result of the former president's rhetoric, they argue.

The officers, who both live in Maryland, are seeking compensatory damages of at least $75,000 apiece and punitive damages of an unspecified amount.

"Through his words in the months following the 2020 presidential election and speaking from a position of authority over his followers, [Mr. Trump] planted the seeds that made likely the violence that was unleashed on James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby on January 6, 2021," the complaint states.

The U.S. Capitol Police said the two officers are "USCP officers who are acting individually from the Department."

According to the complaint, Blassingame was on "outside patrol" across from the Capitol building on the morning of January 6, while Hemby was assigned to the Civil Disturbance Unit. Neither said they received briefings about what to expect from the mob of Mr. Trump's supporters.

As the crowd outside the Capitol swelled that afternoon following the former president's speech outside the White House, Hemby and other officers spaced out along a line of bike racks on the Capitol's East Front. Blassingame, meanwhile, was called to the Capitol and was inside the building when he learned its West Front steps were "overtaken by the insurrectionists." He observed four of his colleagues pinned to the doors by the surging crowd of Mr. Trump's backers, according to the complaint.

Hemby and his fellow officers were chased up the steps of the Capitol's East Front and pressed against doors there as rioters broke through barriers, according to the complaint. He was "crushed against the doors" in an effort to stop the mob from getting inside the building.

"[T]hey struck him with their fists and whatever they had in their hands," the complaint states. "Things were being thrown at him, and he was sprayed with chemicals that irritated his eyes, skin and throat."

Trump supporters storm Capitol building in Washington
Security forces respond to protesters at the entrance of U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., on January 6, 2021. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Hemby, then posted at the top of the Rotunda steps outside the Capitol's East Front, was cut near his eye and received abrasions on his face and hands. 

According to the complaint, Blassingame, who faced rioters charging into the Crypt, was called a racial slur "repeatedly and throughout" the attack and eventually "lost count of the many times" the slur was hurled at him. He was struck in the face, head, chest and arms, and some of the insurrectionists had weapons such as flagpoles, stanchions and building signs, as well as bottles filled with unknown liquids, the suit alleges.

Blassingame eventually ended up in the House Ways and Means Committee meeting room to help evacuate members and remained there for several hours, eventually leaving around 7:30 p.m. 

"He is haunted by the memory of being attacked, and of the sensory impacts — the sights, sounds, smells and even tastes of the attack remain close to the surface," the complaint says of Blassingame. "He experiences guilt of being unable to help his colleagues who were simultaneously being attacked; and of surviving where other colleagues did not. The weight on Officer Blassingame has been heavy and pervasive."

Hemby meanwhile, reported injuries to his left hand and left knee, which became swollen. He was also sprayed with chemical sprays that burned his skin. For pain to his neck and back, Hemby receives physical therapy, but now has trouble sleeping.

"Officer Hemby normally has a calm demeanor but he has struggled to manage the emotional fallout from being relentlessly attacked," the suit says.

Blassingame and Hemby allege Mr. Trump directed assault and battery and aided and abetted assault and battery with his conduct on January 6. The officers also argue the former president directed intentional infliction of emotional distress by his supporters and violated D.C. statutes.

The suit from the two Capitol Police officers is the first filed against Mr. Trump from law enforcement who defended the Capitol from the mob of his supporters, but Democratic lawmakers have also sued the former president over the events of January 6.

The assault led the House, in a bipartisan vote, to impeach Mr. Trump for incitement of insurrection, but he was acquitted by the Senate.

While Mr. Trump's supporters mounted their assault to stop Congress from reaffirming President Biden's electoral victory, which led to the death of one U.S. Capitol Police officer and four others, they were unsuccessful. Scores of the rioters are now facing federal charges for their roles in the attack. 

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