On January 6, 2021, the failure of the Capitol Police to manage a mob of pro-Trump supporters shocked the country and will likely go down in history as one of the nation’s greatest modern security fails. As the dust continues to settle, the fallout from this event is growing, as are emerging stories of heroism.
The day after protestors stormed the Capitol, the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police Steven Sund tenured his resignation in response to a request from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. His last day is January 16. The Capitol Police, unlike the D.C. Police, are hired and managed at the discretion of Congress and not the city. Assistant Chief Yogananda D. Pittman has taken over in the interim.
“Many of our Capitol Police just acted so bravely and with such concern for the staff, the members, for the Capitol … and they deserve our gratitude. But there was a failure at the top of the Capitol Police,” Pelosi said in calling for Sund’s resignation last week.
After resigning, Sund has now come out to say that he was denied National Guard Troops after he submitted a request from House and Senate security officials.
According to reports from The Washington Post, “House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving said he wasn’t comfortable with the ‘optics’ of formally declaring an emergency ahead of the demonstration, Sund said. Meanwhile, Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger suggested that Sund should informally seek out his Guard contacts, asking them to ‘lean forward’ and be on alert in case Capitol Police needed their help.”
In hindsight, the extra support would have helped as the protestors breached the Capitol’s west side within 15 minutes.
The Capitol Police have also lost one of their members to suicide, in addition to the officer who died due to injuries sustained during the protest.
A 15-year veteran of the force, Officer Howard Liebengood committed suicide on Saturday, days after responding to the Capitol breach. He was 51 years old and the son of former Sergeant-At-Arms Howard S. Liebengood.
“Every Capitol Police Officer puts the security of others before their own safety and Officer Liebengood was an example of the selfless service that is the hallmark of USCP,” Capitol Police Union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement. “This is a tragic day.”
“His death is a tragedy that has deprived all of us a dedicated public servant,” Barry Pollack, a lawyer representing the Liebengood family, said in a statement. “His family has suffered a devastating loss and asks that they be given space to grieve in private.”
He is survived by his wife and siblings.
Many of the men and women responsible for the security breach at the Capitol have been arrested across the country.
Those include Larry Rendell Brock of Texas and Eric Gavelek Munchel of Tennessee. Both were photographed with plastic “zip ties,” which security officials believe may have been intended for members of Congress in a kidnapping or hostage situation.
One of the most infamous photographs from that day was the one of a man posing with his feet up at Pelosi’s desk. He has been arrested and identified as Richard Barnett of Gravette, Arkansas. He apparently stole an envelope from the House Speaker’s desk and replaced it with a quarter because “I’m not a thief,” as he said to the local 5News.
But amidst all the chaos and tragedy, there were many acts of heroism, including that of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman.
In a video that has since gone viral, Goodman could be seen seemingly leading a mass of protestors in a particular direction. Some were questioning Goodman’s intentions and if he was in on the protest, but new reports have shown that he was actually leading the protestors away from the open hallway to the Senate chamber and to a location with more Capitol Police Officers.
“His name is USCP Officer Eugene Goodman. Remember his name. He almost certainly saved lives on Wednesday,” tweeted CNN reporter Kristin Wilson. “My thanks, Officer Goodman. THANK YOU.”
One of the protestors chasing Goodman was Doug Jensen from Des Moines, Iowa, who has since been arrested.
There is no doubt that the breach of the Capitol Building and the tragic loss of life will be remembered for decades to come, but so will the acts of bravery as Capitol Police did what they could to manage a chaotic and unprecedented situation.
Photo from JIM URQUHART/REUTERS