A Black Capitol Hill Police officer is being hailed as a hero for his actions during the Jan. 6 riot in which insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol in a deadly riot that took five lives.
Eugene Goodman, who encountered a throng of angry, shouting Trump supporters, was seen on a video that has now gone viral, taken by Huffington Post politics reporter Igor Bobic diverting the mob away from the Senate chamber, which was not guarded and could have led them directly to lawmakers. Armed with a baton and his training, Goodman used himself -- and possibly his identity as a Black man, since some rioters carried Confederate battle flags -- to bait them away from the corridor, likely saving lives.
“He pulled out a baton, but did not draw his weapon,” Bobic, who was covering the electoral college certification in Congress that day, told CBS News. “But was ultimately unable to hold back this crowd, this group of protesters, who then chased him up the stairs, on the second floor, steps away from the Senate building, right outside the Senate floor.”
In the fracas, rioters indicated they intended to come after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence, meaning Goodman only had seconds to act. He shoves a protestor, identified later as Iowa man Doug Jensen, rushing toward him, then leads the group away from the entrance to the chamber. Jensen was arrested days later and is now facing several serious federal charges.
As Bobic’s video shows, members of the mob eventually ran into other Capitol police officers, but others did make it into the Senate chamber through its gallery and walked onto the Senate floor. However, by then, all of the elected officials had been removed from the room.
According to Washington D.C. station WUSA, Goodman is an Army veteran who served in Iraq. He is being widely praised for his quick thinking and willingness to put himself at risk to protect the legislators who were in danger.
U.S. Capitol Police are being criticized for what was a security breakdown in the building. In one video, officers seem to open doors to let them in, despite the breaching of security barriers outside. At least one is seen in a photo taking a selfie with a rioter. Five people died, including a woman who was shot to death by an officer as she tried to break through a window with others in the mob, and also Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died of injuries after being beaten by the mob. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund resigned a day after the riot.