New Capitol surveillance footage shows Jan 6 riot breach from start to finish

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Two 40-minute videos from January 6 show how hundreds of rioters violated an entry point on Capitol Hill and how police eventually regained control.

Posted on October 18, 2021 at 10:01 a.m. ET


Jon Cherry / Getty Images

A pro-Trump mob invades the Capitol after breaking into it.

WASHINGTON – A pair of U.S. Capitol surveillance videos leaked by prosecutors last week offer a new perspective on how a mob overwhelmed police and repeatedly violated a main access point to the building during riots of January 6.

The footage shows a small team of United States Capitol Police officers vastly outnumbered by the number of people trying to enter. There are no more than five officers in the cadre at any one time; Hundreds of people pass through this entry point on the Upper West Terrace of the Capitol in about 13 minutes. The rioters largely do not turn around when the police try to block their path, but appear to argue and negotiate before pushing back the officers or until the officers retreat.

The videos have no sound, but they show tense verbal exchanges as police repeatedly attempt to prevent crowds from entering inside. The clashes are mostly non-violent, unlike clashes in other locations around the Capitol where rioters have attacked police with makeshift weapons – including flag poles, pieces of wood and metal, and fire extinguishers – chemical sprays and their fists. In the midst of a final confrontation at the gate, the officers suddenly withdraw, and the video doesn’t show why, but the timing coincides with an escalation in violence elsewhere around the Capitol.

A Senate report released over the summer described widespread “intelligence and security failures” that left police on the ground unprepared for the influx of thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump, who went down to the Capitol. In the new videos, the officers initially attempting to contain the Upper West Terrace breach are not wearing helmets or other special protective gear, and there does not appear to be a coordinated plan to secure the gates. There is no officer stationed at the outer doors at the start; the officers are seen responding to the rioters who are already inside the building and encouraging them to leave, and the rioters who leave make the first breach possible when they open the doors to exit.

Each video is 40 minutes long and covers the same period of time, from 2:20 p.m. to 3 p.m. side of the Capitol and one leading inside to a staircase leading to the Rotunda. Cameras face in opposite directions, recording events from both sides of the hallway.

The government released the footage in the case of Ethan Nordean, one of more than 630 defendants accused of participating in the riots. Nordean, described in court documents as a leader of the extremist group Proud Boys, is accused of conspiring with other suspected rioters to assault the Capitol in order to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election. Nordean continued challenges to the legality of the charges against him and his imprisonment. His lawyers argued in court records this summer that the videos showed police permit the people coming to the Capitol and, more precisely, the captured officers ”authorizing»The entry of Nordean.

The government disagrees with Nordean’s account of what the videos show, calling its lawyers’ description “grossly inaccurate”.

“In reality, the video as a whole depicts a rampaging mob forcibly violating the Capitol and endangering the lives of, among others, law enforcement officials who have sworn to protect the Capitol, the officials who work there and the citizens. who, unlike the defendant, legally and peacefully petition the legislature, ”the prosecutors wrote in a July 29 filing.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has objected to the release of Capitol surveillance footage in several Jan. 6 lawsuits, arguing on behalf of the U.S. Capitol Police that the revealing of the cameras’ views to the inside the building creates a security risk; a judge in another case recently opposed the government and ordered disclosure. Prosecutors initially fought for videos of the Nordean case to be made public, but filed a notice in court on October 8 saying they were abandoning that position. (A media coalition that includes BuzzFeed News had asked the court to release the images to the public, but that became moot once the government no longer objected.)

Here are the key moments from the 40-minute footage. Full videos are also available below:

14:33:13 to 14:35:58

Both videos start at exactly 2:20 p.m., but the action does not resume until 13 minutes. Two officers open the interior doors, revealing rioters who are already inside passing by. Half a dozen people walk past the officers to leave the building, and when they open the exterior doors, the rioters outside take the opportunity to enter. A person carrying an American flag holds one of the exterior doors open and signals to others that they may enter inside.

An officer who held one of the interior doors open to allow people to exit did not move at first when a single rioter entering through the exterior doors entered. But this officer then walks away and a second masked officer replaces him, standing in the doorway and temporarily stopping the rioters as they march past. A crowd forms in the corridor. It is not clear if there are other officers inside, out of view of the camera, but at most, only three officers are visible standing directly in the doorway. Less than a minute later, the crowd overtakes them and enters the Capitol as more and more rioters pour in from outside.

Two minutes after the interior doors open, five officers, including the one standing in the doorway before the crowd passed, walk through the interior doors toward the exit. We can see two of them holding batons.

14:35:58 to 14:37:49

One of the officers pokes his head through the outer door, where a crowd gathers as rioters enter. There’s a part of the hall that no camera captures, and that’s where the other officers stand. No other rioters are seen heading towards the interior doors, indicating that the officers again attempted to stop their forward movement into the building. Several rioters brandish cell phones, appearing to record the meeting. A person wearing a green combat-style helmet and what appears to be a gas mask walks towards the front where the officers are standing. A few rioters begin to gesture towards the officers and speak to them in unison, appearing to be singing.

After about a minute or so, the officers begin to back away towards the interior doors and the crowd steps forward, past the officers, who move to the sides of the hallway. Rioters tripped over a carpet in the hallway, and at one point, a person in a red hat picked him up and threw him aside.

2:40 p.m. to 2:41:59 p.m.

After about two minutes of uninterrupted rioters entering the Capitol, the officers standing in the hallway after the crowd had passed them appear to be making another attempt to keep more of the crowd out. The same officer who had stood inside the inner door at first to try to stop the initial breach walks towards the outer doors, joined by his colleagues and the rioters who crossed the threshold into the hallway. A few people who open the interior doors from the interior at various times quickly turn around and walk back to the Capitol when they see the confrontation at the exterior door.

The crowd outside does not turn around and a discussion ensues between the officers and the rioters closest to them, with a few people pointing and gesturing towards the officers.

14:42:00 to 14:43:59

Halfway through the discussion between the police and the rioters, some members of the crowd begin to advance, pushing the frontline participants into the police. The situation immediately stabilizes and a person near the front wearing a bonnet raises his hands while one of the officers does the same. No more pointing and gesturing at agents as the conversation continues. An officer runs his hand over his head. A few people walk through the interior doors and the police let them out of the building through the crowd.

14:44:00 to 14:45:59

Just over four minutes after the last police effort to stop the crowd, an officer lightly pulls his colleague – who has spoken with the rioters – back and whispered in his ear. The five agents then begin to back towards the interior doors and the crowd advances. We don’t know what drives the officers to leave. However, shortly before retirement, a United States Capitol Police officer shot dead Ashli ​​Babbitt in another part of the building; Police body camera video released in connection with another case shows DC officers receiving a radio alert for “gunfire” about 30 seconds before officers at the Upper West Terrace entrance leave the crowd, but no sound means there is no recording of what the officers were saying to each other.

Rioters flock to the building again. At one point, one person stands in the doorway of the outer door and gestures for others to enter. Suddenly, policemen in riot gear appear in the frame approaching the outer door from the outside.

14:46:00 to 14:47:36

Local DC police officers wearing helmets are seen pulling rioters away from the outer gate. Two final rioters slip inside as a group of riot police gathers just outside; a few people open the interior doors from the inside and walk towards the exit but quickly turn around when they see the police. Two officers wearing helmets – one carrying a baton and the other carrying a fire extinguisher – enter the interior and a person attempting to pass through the interior doors backs up with their hands in the air when they see the police. approach. The officer with the fire extinguisher leaves, and the other officer stands in the doorway of the interior door holding his staff and speaks briefly to another officer who appears in the frame inside.

14:49:37 to 14:51:29

After a few minutes of minimal activity, an officer walks through the interior doors to the exit and opens one of the exterior doors, and a group of helmeted officers rush inside and into the building. Some wear combat style helmets while others wear bicycle helmets. Some have batons; one carries a fire extinguisher. For the rest of the videos, which end at 3 p.m., rioters are no longer seen entering through these doors. ●

Watch the full videos below:

Department of Justice

The full video from the Upper West Terrace outdoor camera.

Department of Justice

The full video of the Upper West Terrace Interior camera.


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