Capitol Police Sergeant Recalls Being More Afraid During Riot Than Iraq Military Deployment

A Capitol Police Department sergeant said on Tuesday that he was more afraid to work at the Capitol on January 6 than he was during his entire military deployment in Iraq.

During a hearing before the House of Representative's select committee that is investigating the January 6 riots at the Capitol, Sergeant Aquilino Gonell said, "on January 6, for the first time, I was more afraid to work at the Capitol than my entire deployment to Iraq."

"In Iraq, we expected armed violence because we were in a war zone, but nothing I experienced in the army or as a law enforcement officer, prepared me for what we confronted on January 6," Gonell continued.

Gonell compared the events of the January 6 riots to a "medieval battle," and said that he and other officers "fought hand to hand, inch by inch to prevent an invasion of the Capitol by a violent mob intent [on damaging the country's democratic process]."

During his remarks before the select committee, Gonell became emotional as he recalled the day after the riots and said that he had to push his wife away due to all the chemicals he had on his uniform.

"I couldn't sleep because the chemicals reactivated after I took a shower and my skin was burning," Gonell said. "I finally fell asleep two hours later, completely physically and mentally exhausted, yet by 8 a.m. I was already on my way back to the Capitol. And I continued to work for 15 consecutive days after the inauguration. I made sure to work despite my injuries because I wanted to continue doing my job and help secure the Capitol complex."

Gonell noted that even six months after the Capitol riots, he is still working to fully heal from all of his injuries sustained on January 6.

Gonell's comments came before the House's select committee that will investigate the January 6 riots, when supporters of former President Donald Trump breached the Capitol protesting Congress' certification of the 2020 presidential election results.

The committee created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is made up of six Democrats and two Republicans, Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy previously provided Pelosi with several picks for the select committee but she rejected two of them, Representative Jim Banks of Indiana and Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, saying in a statement that she "must reject the recommendations of Representatives Banks and Jordan to the Select Committee."

Pelosi's rejection, which she said was partly prompted by Banks and Jordan's opposition to the certification of the election results, prompted criticism from McCarthy who said in a statement that her decision was "an egregious abuse of power."

Prior to the announcement by Pelosi, Senate Republicans blocked an effort to create a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the Capitol riots.

Newsweek reached out to the Capitol Police Department for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Capitol Riots
A Capitol Police Department sergeant said that he was more afraid to work at the Capitol on January 6 than his entire military deployment in Iraq. Above, Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Brent Stirton/Getty