US Capitol Police Captain Carneysha Mendoza has recounted suffering chemical burns on her face during the deadly January 6 riots.
Earlier this year, pro-Trump supporters stormed the federal building in Washington DC in a bid to halt Congress from finalising Joe Biden’s election win, leading to widespread injuries and the deaths of five people.
While some officers were praised for their efforts in trying to hold off the mob, such as Eugene Goodman, the bungled response of law enforcement has prompted a Senate hearing on the intelligence and security failures during the insurrection.
You can watch a clip from Mendoza’s testimony below:
Mendoza, who has served in the US Army in addition to being a member of the US Capitol Police for almost 19 years, explained she’d previously worked heated events, having been called ‘so many names so many times that I’m numb to it now’.
She said, ‘Unfortunately I didn’t save any lives, but there are certain lessons that always struck with me after 9/11. One of those lessons is that the unthinkable is always possible, so be ready.’
However, the Capitol riots were ‘by far the worst of the worst… we could have had 10 times the amount of people working with us and I still believe this battle would have been just as devastating’.
When Mendoza arrived at the Capitol, she was confronted with around 200 rioters screaming and yelling. ‘I had no choice but to proceed through the violent crowd in the building,’ she said.
The Special Operations Division captain explained to senators, ‘I proceeded to the Rotunda where I noticed a heavy smoke-like residue and smelled what I believed to be military grade CS gas – a familiar smell. It was mixed with fire extinguisher spray deployed by the rioters. The rioters continued to deploy CS into the Rotunda.’
She continued, ‘Officers received a lot of gas exposure, which is worse inside the building than outside, because there’s nowhere for it to go. I received chemical burns to my face that still have not healed to this day.’
While officers managed to clear the Rotunda, the door had to be physically held shut because it had been broken by rioters.
Mendoza said, ‘Officers begged me for relief as they were unsure how long they could physically hold the door closed with the crowd continually banging on the outside of the door, attempting to gain re-entry. Eventually, officers were able to secure the door with furniture and other objects.’
Mendoza also recounted, ‘At some point, my right arm got wedged between the rioters and railing along the wall. A [DC police] sergeant pulled my arm free and had he not, I’m certain it would have been broken.’
She added, ‘I’m proud of the officers I worked with on January 6. They fought extremely hard. I know some said the battle lasted three hours, but according to my Fitbit, I was in the exercise zone for four hours and nine minutes, and many officers were in the fight before I even arrived.’
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Topics: News, Capitol, Capitol Police, Capitol Riots, Now, Riots, US