Two Capitol Hill police officers who were on duty during the deadly Jan.6 riot at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday sued former President Donald J. Trump, claiming he was responsible for the physical and emotional injuries they suffered following the events of the day.
Supporters of Mr. Trump invaded the Capitol as Congress certified Joe Biden’s victory over Mr. Trump in the November presidential election. Ahead of the incursion, Mr. Trump spoke at a nearby rally, where he urged his supporters to “show strength” and “fight like hell.”
Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died in the chaos. Mr Trump was then impeached by the House of Representatives on a single charge of ‘inciting insurgency’, but was acquitted in February after a brief Senate trial in which few Republicans broke ranks to vote guilty.
The Capitol Police officers who prosecuted Mr. Trump, James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, have filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court for the District of Columbia and are each seeking compensatory damages in excess of $ 75,000, plus punitive damages.
The lawsuit is the first to be brought against the former president by police officers from the Capitol. The force has more than 2,000 officers.
Lawyers for the officers and Mr. Trump could not be reached for comment on Wednesday morning. Mr. Trump has previously denied responsibility for the attack.
The complaint says the “insurgent mob” that stormed Capitol Hill was “prompted by Trump’s conduct for many months to make his supporters believe” his false allegations of widespread voter fraud in November. The complaint also stated that Mr. Trump’s supporters believed the Capitol Swarm was their last chance to prevent Mr. Trump from being unfairly kicked out of the White House.
Mr. Trump “ignited, encouraged, incited, directed and aided and abetted” the mob that invaded the building and attacked police personnel inside, according to the complaint. He cited Mr Trump’s Jan. 6 speech and other behavior, including what he said was his failure that day to “take timely action to prevent his supporters from continuing the violence.” .
During the attack, Constable Hemby, an 11-year veteran of the Capitol Police, was outside the building, crushed against the side and sprayed with chemicals that burned his eyes, skin and throat, according to the complaint. A member of the crowd shouted that he “did not respect the badge”.
Officer Hemby remains in physiotherapy for neck and back injuries he sustained on Jan.6 and “has struggled to deal with the emotional fallout from being relentlessly attacked,” according to the complaint.
Officer Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the force, suffered head and back injuries during the riot, according to the complaint, and subsequently suffered from back pain, depression and insomnia.
“He is haunted by the memory of the attack and the sensory impacts – the sights, sounds, smells and even the tastes of the attack remain close to the surface,” the complaint says. “He feels guilty for not being able to help his colleagues who were simultaneously attacked; and survive where other colleagues could not.
The Capitol and Metropolitan Police departments said at least 138 of their officers were injured in the riot. The injuries ranged from light bruises to concussions, broken ribs, burns and even a mild heart attack.