Metro D.C. narcotics officer Michael Fanone almost died after suffering a heart attack following January 6, 2021, a day on which he was brutally attacked—at one point tazed with his own weapon—and beaten unconscious by the mob attempting to take over our nation’s Capitol building. “I think a lot of officers don’t want to focus on what they experienced on January 6 because, not just how difficult the experience was, but reliving it while others are trying to diminish it is also very difficult.”
Officer Fanone, who has taken medical leave, is not alone. Other officers have testified to the fascistic, racist, and violent nature of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. They have been open about their struggles with PTSD, and the very simple reality that what happened was, is, and should always remain, against the law.
But Fanone, along with the nation, has unfortunately and predictably been disappointed by Republican leadership’s inability to denounce not only the perpetrators of the crimes on January 6, 2021, but the GOP officials who continue to downplay the facts and events of the insurrection, and have used their power to obstruct the pursuit of justice.
Officer Fanone has been very open about his experiences at the Capitol. He has spoken to numerous media outlets. He has spoken with representatives from both parties. He recently testified under oath for the before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. Fanone sat down with TIME magazine reporter Molly Ball at his mother’s home in Virginia. He sat again for a taping of his reactions to video footage recorded from the insurrection as it happened.
His goal is simple: Officer Fanone wants lawmakers and law enforcement to recognize the reality of what happened. As Fanone explained to TIME, “There’s people on both sides of the political aisle that are like, ‘Listen, Jan. 6 happened, it was bad, we need to move on as a country.’ What an arrogant fucking thing for someone to say that wasn’t there that day.”
Going back to the morning of January 6th, Fanone—who voted for Trump but knows he lost the 2020 election—explains what happened:
He heard and then saw the red-hat wearing “Stop the Steal” mob heading down to the Capitol building, and suited up—voluntarily—to help offer support to his fellow Capitol and D.C. Metro Police officers trying to protect an entire branch of our government from a violent coup.
In response to footage from the attack, Fanone says, “This is not an organized response. This is officers fighting for their lives.” Fanone went on to describe the moments etched into his mind like a nightmare, of being pulled out and dragged down the steps, while being tased and beaten.
“I remember vividly thinking about the individuals, you know, who were surrounding me and assaulting me, some of whom were trying to get a hold of my gun. And I remember thinking ‘Well, they’re trying to kill me. Deadly force is an option here. But is it the best option for me to survive this situation?’ And ultimately I concluded it was not. … I looked for other means to survive, and so I told them I had kids.” He says that is really the last thing he remembers.
Here is Officer Fanone, just days after January 6, speaking with CNN about his experiences at the Capitol building.
Conservatives like Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, who described the Jan. 6 insurrection as a “normal tourist visit,” have infuriated law enforcement officers who risked their lives at the Capitol. Rep. Clyde’s abjectly false description of the day’s events, rejected by reality and hours of footage and reporting, is the peak of cynicism. Photos of Clyde’s face, while barricaded in the House of Representative’s chambers show that, unless Mr. Clyde’s understanding of a sightseeing jaunt includes pooping one’s pants, Mr. Clyde is not telling the truth. Of course, since there is building evidence that high-profile Republicans like Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona may have had a hand in the organization of the events of leading up to the “Stop the Steal” rally’s descent into sedition and violence, it is no surprise the conspirators are closing ranks.
Fanone tells TIME that during a meeting with GOP members, he heard them talk about how much they supported police, specifically with regard to the Black Lives Matter movement. Fanone says he told them, “You guys don’t seem to have a problem when we’re kicking the shit out of Black people. But when we’re kicking the shit out of white people, uh-oh, that’s an issue.”
“What needs to happen is there needs to be a reckoning,” Fanone says. So say we all.