Fact Check: Is There 'New Footage' Showing Police Beating Rioter Rosanne Boyland?

A video clip purporting to be new footage of an incident involving a Capitol rioter who died being hit by police has spread online.

Rosanne Boyland, 34, was one of three people who died of medical emergencies when a pro-Trump crowd stormed the Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election last January.

A fourth person was fatally shot by police and an officer was also killed.

The Claim

A video purporting to show police brutality against Capitol rioter Rosanne Boyland, who is seein laying on the ground unconscious, is being shared online.

The video is annotated with arrows and text to suggest that the Capitol police officers beat up Boyland, who was lying on the steps by the entrance, with some of those sharing the footage claiming that she died at the hands of the police.

The clip, along with links to articles on right-wing websites and blogs featuring the video, has gone viral over the past three days, and the video has been promoted by prominent conservative personalities and influencers, including Charlie Kirk, who is a contributor to Newsweek's opinion columns.

Newsweek has so far been unable to definitively establish the provenance of the heavily edited video, which has been shared thousands of times on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, often accompanied by aggressive rhetoric targeting the police.

The Facts

The 51-second "New Graphic video" consists of short segments taken from at least two existing videos, spliced together (some are repeated in a loop) and annotated misleadingly to drive a false narrative.

Footage in the first part of the clip appears to be sourced from a video court exhibit in the U.S. Capitol Insurrection case released under a court order by the Department of Justice in July 2021.

Several frames starting at the 23 second mark on the exhibit are looped together in the "New Graphic video," creating the impression that the officer swinging a baton in the background does so not three but several times. In both videos the scene goes out of shot as the officer wearing the bodycam appears to collapse to the ground, providing another indication that the footage is indeed the same.

The same two- or three-second fragment is then replayed again several times, at a slowed down rate, with an annotating arrow pointing towards the officer swinging the baton that the video purports is aimed at Boyland, who is lying on the ground, apparently unconscious.

Finally, the video stops just as a wooden stick appears in the frame. The freeze frame caption in red states: "This is a large tree branch, or a wooden trekking pole, that was just broken over Rosanne Boyland's head. *Why* did the FBI and DoJ miss this?"

Capitol Riot video screenshot
A screengrab from the January 6 Capitol riot video evidence released by the Department of Justice in July
A screengrab from viral Capitol Riot video
A screengrab from the viral video that alleges to show "new footage" of the police purportedly attacking Rosanne Boyland, who lay unconscious on the ground.

The full-length video, however, puts those frames in a different light. What is not shown in the "New Graphic video" are the preceding 25 seconds, during which the rioters can be seen closing in on the Capitol entrance, throwing projectiles at the officers and then (at mark 0.09) trying to drag an officer on the ground into the crowd. Other officers attempt to push back the crowd and retrieve their colleague, with one of them swinging the baton at the protestors in front, not the woman on the ground.

It isn't immediately clear where the wooden stick appears from (although it can be seen flying from the crowd towards officers in another video, discussed below), but the freeze frame placement seems deliberate: in the longer versions of the video—both from the Gateway Pundit from September and the original Department of Justice exhibit—the stick can be seen falling down, rather than being held by an officer to deliver a blow to the head, as the "New Graphic video" purports.

The video then shifts to the next segment, appearing to show the incident from a different perspective (high above and from a distance). The slowed footage is only 10 seconds long, and a Reverse Image Search for similar thumbnails reveals that a much longer version aired on MSNBC July 15.

The MSNBC segment is over a minute longer and includes some sections that were used in the "New Graphic video", filmed from above, which offer additional context. At 5.57 rioters can be seen throwing punches at the police, while at 6.02 a man in the crowd wildly swings a hockey stick, appearing to hit officers and the people on the ground.

Being accosted by the stick-wielding man, the officer in green appears to pick up a projectile that just landed at their feet and swing back at the hockey stick man multiple times — the precise moment that, the "New Graphic video" claims, shows the officer beat the woman on the ground. The stick is then knocked out of the officer's hands and bounces to the ground.

Newsweek has reached out to the U.S. Capitol Police Media Center for comments.

As the above point-by-point analysis shows, the video purporting to be "new" is in fact not displaying any new or exclusive footage. A longer but similarly misleading edited video had appeared on Rumble and other streaming services at least as early as September, as have the false narratives about January 6 riot victims.

Scenes from the riot featuring Boyland, including the parts used in the "New Graphic video" footage, have been investigated by other outlets, including The New York Times, as early as January. Multiple accounts of her death had emerged in the press, including initial reports that speculated that the woman was crushed to death by her fellow protesters and that she "collapsed while standing off to the side in the Capitol rotunda"; the coroner's report eventually concluded that she died of an amphetamine overdose.

The Ruling

Fact Check - False

False.

The video claiming to show police officers beat an unconscious woman is neither new nor accurate.

It is a compilation of short segments of other videos spliced together to mislead.

Full videos provide the context of the scene, where officers were trying to drag back and protect an officer that lay on the ground next to Boyland. One officer attempted to hit back at a man in the crowd wielding a hockey stick, a moment that can be clearly seen in the full-length videos, but not in the heavily-doctored viral video. Finally, claims that Boyland died at the hands of the police are also false, as the coroner's report stated a drug overdose was the cause of death.

FACT CHECK BY NEWSWEEK

Capitol Riot
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. A viral video claiming to contain "new footage" of police brutality is in fact a doctored version of previous known videos Brent Stirton/Getty Images
False: The claim is demonstrably false. Primary source evidence proves the claim to be false.
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