WASHINGTON (ABC7) — We've seen the images. And on Thursday, D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee let three Metropolitan Police Department officers who were on the front lines at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 speak to ABC7.
"They have a heroic story and I think the world really needs to know," Contee said.
On that day, the tunnel through which a president walks out for the inaugural ceremony was where police say a crowd of rioters were gathered, some with bear mace. The officers were trying to keep them out of the Capitol, where lawmakers were gathered to confirm that Joe Biden had won the Electoral College.
Officer Christina Laury said the grounds of the Capitol had already been taken over when she arrived.
"I don't think we even understood the magnitude, and the amount of people that were actually there," she said.
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She believes she was hit with bear mace multiple times, which sealed her eyes shut.
"It's not only painful, but you literally can't open your eyes and when you can’t open your eyes ... that’s scary," she said. She saw officers get hit with it and "the second they were able to open their eyes, they were back up front."
"Nobody was going to get through that West Entrance," she said. "If it was up to the Metropolitan Police Department, they were not coming in."
"I was the one that was crushed in the door," said Fourth District patrol officer Daniel Hodges.
Hodges said there were multiple times that he feared for his life that day. One was when he was surrounded and beaten outside, the second was when the police lines broke on the dais.
"I thought, you know, this might be it," he said. "I might die and there’s nothing I can do to defend myself at this point, so I just started screaming at the top of my lungs for them to get a way out, get me a line of retreat."
He said a protester beat him with his own baton before other officers freed him. He also thought he might be disfigured when one of the assailants was able to get his thumb in his eye and started gouging at it.
When police managed to push the rioters out of one of the entry points, Officer Michael Fanone said the rioters yanked him out along with them, beating him and tasing him.
Fanone, who was a U.S. Capitol police officer once upon a time, said he works in a vice-like unit, wearing plainclothes.
"I haven't put a uniform on in more than a decade," he said. But he suited up that day. "I remember putting my uniform on, I was actually like pulling all my gear out of the plastic bags that it was issued to me in... one of the officers who was in the locker room comes over to me and he's like 'Mike, man, we gotta get you squared away, buddy, like you got tags attached to your shirt.'"
Hours later, Fanone says, rioters were pulling other things off of him. Gear off his vest, and his badge. They tried to grab his gun.
"I thought about killing people," he said.
"I remember guys chanting, like, 'Kill him with his own gun.' I was tased about a half dozen times on the back of my neck. That sucked... I thought about killing people."
He said he told the mob he had kids, and some then shielded him until his partner officer, Jimmy Albright, got him back into the tunnel.
Fanone said he suffered a mild heart attack and was hospitalized for two days. The other officers we spoke to were not hospitalized.
The police said they were amazed that a lot of the rioters seemed to think the police were supposed to be helping them.
"... that they would just walk right up and say 'we're here to arrest Congress.' And then police would say, 'OK let's go' and we'd all walk in, hand-in-hand, and just do whatever they wanted," Hodges said. "But that wasn't the case and it will never be the case."