It may have been a shootout: Police inspector offers Proud Boys jury insight of Capitol attack

Lloyd, a 32-year veteran of the Capitol Police force, told prosecutor Conor Mulroe that using a gun on Jan. 6 was a “personal decision” for officers to make as they were being overrun by the frenzied mob.

Rioters were brimming over with “anger and animosity towards law enforcement,” he said. They hurled projectiles or doused police in bear and pepper spray as they forced their way into the Capitol or scrambled up plywood scaffolding erected for the inauguration of now-President Joe Biden.

Other rioters jabbed at officers with homemade or makeshift weapons, including flagpoles with exposed nails attached and full frozen water bottles that landed like bricks. Bike racks set along the Capitol’s perimeter on Jan. 6 were used against police, too.

Lloyd recalled how one officer “almost suffered a career-ending injury” when a bike rack was pinned on her leg as the mob trampled over her. 

Court records and footage from the insurrection, as well as testimony delivered to the Jan. 6 committee, have confirmed that several rioters carried firearms as well as knives and bats.

When the first breach occurred on Jan. 6, Lloyd went to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office to assess the rising mob.

It was a “birds-eye view,” he testified. 

“When I looked out the window, I saw protesters breaching the barricades there and beating up my officers,” he said. 

Lloyd’s recounting of the melee was intermixed with graphic video footage of the attack, including up-close clips from police body cameras as well as a number of increasingly desperate police radio transmissions. Proud Boy defendants Zachary Rehl, Joseph Biggs, and Dominic Pezzola were seen in many of the clips Friday. Some footage showed Rehl and Biggs standing at the very front of the massive crowd, wildly gesturing at police or screaming at them before finally barging past them toward the Capitol. Footage of Dominic Pezzola showed him bashing open a Capitol window before crawling inside and then later, marauding through the building with other rioters as he carried a clear police riot shield. 

In all of his years in the department, Lloyd said Jan. 6 was the first time that Capitol Police had to deploy “less-than-lethal force” to quell a crowd on Capitol grounds. 

“It was a very dire situation,” he said. 

Lloyd was pepper-sprayed by rioters and engaged with several during many critical moments. 

But he never drew his weapon. 

“Circumstances did not dictate to use deadly force as far as I’m concerned. There was no situation where had I needed, I had the ability to safely protect other people—innocent people—if a target is identified,” he said. 

At the first Oath Keepers seditious conspiracy trial in October, police officers who testified on behalf of the government maintained it was their cool heads that precluded a shootout. U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn said then that he was hyperaware of how close rioters were to his rifle. He understood the stakes.

“I knew it wouldn’t take much for someone to grab my rifle off me,” he said. 

Just six months after the attack, Capitol Police officer James Blassingame told PBS News Hour that he didn’t fire his gun because it would have been like “throwing kerosene” on a raging fire. 

“The only reason why I didn’t do it was because the mentality was this is a four-alarm blaze,” Blassingame said. “And if I pull my gun out and start shooting, I’m throwing kerosene on it. Maybe there’s a chance I survive if I don’t pull my weapon, but if I do, I’m probably not going to make it out of here alive, you know. You don’t have enough bullets.”

And at the Proud Boys trial on Friday, Lloyd made it plainer: If it had not been for Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman’s deft handling of rioters who came mere feet away from the Senate floor where former Vice President Mike Pence was, as well as other lawmakers, there may have been a shootout. 

“If those [Senate chamber] doors had been reached, most likely there would have been gunfire at this point,” Lloyd said. 

Jurors saw footage of Goodman’s luring a group of rioters—that included Pezzola—up a marble staircase. Goodman let himself be chased by a rioter in front, Doug Jensen. By doing this, he was able to bring the mob away from the unguarded chamber and lead them to a floor where backup was waiting. 

That backup included Lloyd. 

It may have been a shootout: Police inspector offers Proud Boys jury insight of Capitol attack
Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola is pictured with the dark gray coat and beard standing behind Doug Jensen in the black beanie. Lloyd is standing in front of Jensen. 

Prosecutors highlighted these details and elicited Lloyd’s testimony because it goes to the central thrust of the Justice Department’s allegations against the Proud Boys on trial: All of their activities went toward impeding Congress, officers, and lawmakers from performing their official duties at the joint session to certify the 2020 election. Their activities were a forcible attempt to stop the nation’s transfer of power and they were at the forefront of these efforts. Their activities were part of a seditious conspiracy that nearly toppled the seat of democracy. 

The trial will continue on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 9 AM ET. Testimony from Lloyd is expected to continue. 

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