Two U.S. Capitol police officers who say they received physical and emotional wounds during the January 6 riot have filed a suit against Donald Trump, arguing that he bears responsibility for inciting his followers to carry out the attack on the Capitol.
Officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, 17-year and 11-year veterans of the force, respectively, accuse the former president of aiding and abetting assault and battery and directing intentional infliction of emotional distress. They are seeking compensatory damages “in excess of $75,000 for each of them, plus interest and costs.”
“The insurrectionists were spurred on by Trump’s conduct over many months in getting his followers to believe his false allegation that he was about to be forced out of the White House because of massive election fraud by his presidential adversary Joe Biden, and that the convening of Congress on January 6 to count the Electoral College results and declare the winner was their last chance to ‘stop the steal,’” the suit alleges.
On January 6, Hemby was stationed on the Rotunda steps on the East Front of the Capitol, where he was met by a surge of rioters after Trump’s speech at the Ellipse concluded.
“Officer Hemby was crushed against the doors on the east side trying to hold the insurrectionists back. Over and over, he tried to tell the insurrectionists that the doors opened outward and that pressing him into the door would do no good,” the suit describes.
It continued, “But the insurrectionists continued to scream, ‘Fight for Trump,’ ‘Stop the Steal,’ and various other slogans, as they struck him with their fists and whatever they had in their hands. Things were being thrown at him, and he was sprayed with chemicals that irritated his eyes, skin, and throat.”
Hemby received several cuts on his face and hands, including one “located less than an inch from his eye” that bled.
In the document, Blassingame recalls facing off against rioters in the Capitol Crypt with just “eight or nine other officers.”
“Then a forceful surge of insurrectionists pushed forward and slammed Officer Blassingame against a stone column. He struck his spine and the back of his head and was unable to move. For the first time in his life, people were yelling into his face, calling him [the N-word] repeatedly and throughout the attack in the Crypt. He lost count of the many times the racial slur was hurled at him,” the document reads.
Both officers report sustaining physical and mental injuries during the attack.
Hemby is seeing an orthopedic specialist and receives physical therapy for his back and neck “two to three times a week.” The document says the officer “continues to sleep poorly and feels hyperaware and on high alert during his waking hours.”
Blassingame received injuries to his head and back during the incident, and he still experiences back pain. He is also “haunted by the memory of being attacked, and of the sensory impacts — the sights, sounds, smells and even tastes of the attack remain close to the surface,” according to the document.
The suit cites the former president’s own words, such as calling the election “rigged” and tweeting “WE HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT!!!” on December 12, the day of a second “Million MAGA March.” It also notes that a few fellow Republicans, including House Republican Conference chair Liz Cheney and Senator Mitt Romney, publicly blamed the president for the mayhem at the Capitol and voted to impeach him for “incitement of insurrection.”
Trump has yet to respond to the suit, but he has previously denied any responsibility for the January 6 attack and recently asserted that the rioters posed “zero threat.”