‘Everybody f–king us up’: Capitol police officer recalls Jan. 6 encounter outside Pelosi’s office
“They tried to go through me. And I stopped them. They didn’t. I did,” Dunn said defiantly under questioning from one of the Oath Keepers’ attorneys.
Dunn’s meeting with members of the Oath Keepers — including Florida executives Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson — marked the start of the fifth week of testimony in the trial, the most complex and significant to emerge from the attack of January 6 at the Capitol. It came as Pelosi grappled with the aftermath of the San Francisco home invasion that seriously injured her husband, Paul, and sparked a new national debate about politically motivated violence.
Some aspects of the attack on Pelosi’s home, from the attacker’s call for “Where’s Nancy” to her embrace of election conspiracy theories, include echoes of the Capitol Hill breach of the 6 January
Prosecutors tried to find members of the Oath Keepers as individually led to seek out Pelosi and then-Vice President Mike Pence, part of a vast conspiracy to prevent the transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Justice Department lawyers used recent testimony to reconstruct the Oath Keepers’ march through the Capitol, with some members of the group spreading to the Senate and others to the House.
Prosecutors showed video of Dunn’s encounter with Meggs, Harrelson and other mob members, and Dunn walked them through the exchange. “I’m not letting you come this way,” Dunn remembered saying.
“We’ve got dozens of officers down there. They’re taking us out on stretchers. You’re all screwing us up,” he said.
The defendants’ attorneys pressed Dunn on whether his memory might be faulty given the extreme strain he was under. Dunn, a large and imposing figure, agreed that he was under siege – sprinting from place to place while wearing heavy body armor and wielding an M4. He arrived outside the speaker’s office after first helping to defend a staircase leading to the Lower West Terrace, the site of the most extreme and prolonged violence that occurred that day.
Another official, David Lazarus, testified that he witnessed Dunn’s “antagonistic” exchange with the Oath Keepers as he helped lead a frantic effort to create a safe route to evacuate Pelosi’s staffers, some of whom locked in a conference room in his nearby suite.
“I’m in tunnel vision. I just want to get into the office,” Lazarus said, describing his approach to Pelosi’s suite, before seeing Dunn jawing with members of the crowd.
Lazarus said he had been texting and communicating with members of Pelosi’s staff to make sure it was him when he came to help free her from the locked room. It was feared that the second floor of the Capitol – the site of the rotunda, as well as the House and Senate chambers – was too crowded to create a safe evacuation route. So he said he led the staffers to a third-floor conference room that was easier to secure and told them not to open the doors until he returned.
Dunn also recalled seeing Lazarus, whom he briefly mistook for a member of Congress because he was wearing a suit and had a lapel pin. And he said he quickly sought to divert the gaze of the crowd from the officer to himself.
Harrelson’s attorney, Brad Geyer, sought to raise questions about Dunn’s memory, particularly in his FBI interview about the encounter, when he initially suggested he believed members of the Oath Keepers they had offered to protect him from the approaching crowd.
Dunn said he described two separate encounters. The first came in the “Crypt” area of the first floor of the Capitol, above a staircase that led to the Lower West Terrace, in the midst of the intense violence happening below. There, he said, a group wearing military-style gear approached and offered to stand between him and the crowd at the top of the stairs.
But that group, he said, did not include any of the Oath Keepers he later saw outside Pelosi’s office and who did not offer to help, he testified.
Geyer also questioned whether Dunn’s use of profanity with rioters was “unusual,” citing the extreme physical and mental strain the officer was under.
“This day was the most unusual occurrence that happened in my career,” Dunn replied, agreeing that he had feelings of fear and anger amid the riot.
“Have you experienced feelings of betrayal?” Geyer asked.
“During the event, not so much,” Dunn replied. “After, of course. During the event, it was just about surviving.”
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