Terror in the Capitol Tunnel

In 2018, after a local news crew filmed Ryan Nichols rescuing dogs abandoned by their owners after Hurricane Florence, the former Marine appeared on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Not only did DeGeneres commend Nichols’ longtime work as a search-and-rescue volunteer, she donated $25,000 to the Humane Society in his name and gave Ryan and his wife, Bonnie, a $10,000 check to pay for the honeymoon they had missed the year before so Ryan could assist rescue efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

But instead of heading to Hawaii, the Nicholses used the generous donation to buy a rescue boat. With his Marine buddy and best friend, Alex Harkrider, at his side, the pair has participated in “dozens of hurricane rescues and disaster relief efforts,” according to Joseph McBride, Nichols’ attorney.

Three years after his appearance on the DeGeneres show, Nichols was featured on another program, but this time, Nichols spoke from the fetid confines of a political prison in the nation’s capital. And instead of telling a heroic story of saving dogs drowning in rising flood waters, Nichols told Newsmax host Greg Kelly a harrowing tale of what he saw at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

“We showed up in good faith . . . to protest the election results but never would have imagined we would encounter the horrors that we did on the west terrace and in the tunnel that day,” Nichols explained to Kelly in a phone interview on November 9. “When I saw women being beaten and in distress, my rescue instinct kicked in and I knew I had no choice but to help rescue them.”

Nichols’ account is detailed in an appalling new court filing that confirms what American Greatness has reported for months: on January 6, D.C. Metro and Capitol police assaulted nonviolent protesters with explosive devices, rubber bullets, tear gas, and in some cases, their own fists and batons. A tunnel on the lower west side of the Capitol building became a dangerous—and, likely for at least one protester, deadly—battle scene as police viciously attacked American citizens on the “hallowed” grounds of the U.S. Congress.

Nichols, of Texas, has been behind bars since his January 18 arrest; he sits in the D.C. jail specifically used to house January 6 detainees, charged along with Harkrider with multiple offenses including assault of a police officer, civil disorder, and unlawful possession of pepper spray.

So, what on Earth turned two decorated veterans with a history of helping people in crisis into “insurrectionists” who attacked police officers? It was what they saw when they approached the tunnel around 3 p.m. on January 6. “They hear people screaming in pain and crying for help—women and old men are bloodied and injured,” McBride wrote in a motion seeking Nichols’ release. “Training and instincts kick in and they head to the tunnel, wondering if an accident had happened and if other people were even more seriously injured.”

McBride viewed three hours of surveillance video captured by Capitol security camera—the extensive system captured at least 14,000 hours of footage that the Justice Department and Capitol police are desperate to keep away from public view—and described for the first time what happened inside the tunnel where a combination of D.C. and Capitol police, ostensibly, were stationed to prevent protesters from entering the building:

“[Just] after 4:00 pm, Ryan is sprayed multiple times by an officer standing on a ledge in the tunnel,” McBride wrote in a November 1 filing. “He is also separated from a woman who stood next to Ryan at different times at the Western Terrace. She was middle aged and nice. Ryan promised to keep an eye on her. The woman was wearing a red shirt and a MAGA hat. Shortly thereafter, officers begin terrorizing people in and around the tunnel. People are screaming and getting crushed. There is a pile of human beings stacked on top of each other at the tunnel entrance. People are trapped and there is nowhere to go.”

McBride focused on the conduct of one officer in particular, with badge number L359 and wearing a white shirt. The unidentified officer begins “to beat a man for no apparent reason . . . [and] beats the man so badly that the man crawls over to the woman with the MAGA hat.”

At this point, according to the security video, the officer turns his sights on the woman. “Then for reasons that no fair minded or decent human being will ever understand—[the officer wearing the] White-shirt turns his attention to the woman and begins to pulverize her,” McBride explained. “The weapon this officer appears to be using is a collapsible stick, designed to break windows in emergency situations. This stick is neither designed nor to be used against another human being.”

For the next several minutes, between 4 p.m. and around 4:15 p.m., the officer in the white shirt relentlessly beats the woman; McBride furnished a literal blow-by-blow account in the court document. (The time stamp is based on a three-hour video clip, not time of day.)

2:07:01: White-shirt hits the woman in the head with his baton five times in seven seconds;

2:07:22: The woman is sprayed directly in the eyes by officer on ledge;

2:07:24: White-shirt uses his baton to hit another person with a mask on;

2:07:30: The woman and others are still being maced and hit by White-shirt and ledge officer;

2:07:38: Blood is visibly coming out of the woman’s head and can be seen on the white hoody;

2:07:55: White-shirt and other officers are randomly assaulting people for no apparent reason;

2:08:17: White-shirt makes his way to front of crowd again and targets woman who is attempting to escape;

2:08:30: White-shirt spears and pokes the woman with his baton about the head, neck, and face so as to inflict maximum pain;

2:08:46: White-shirt beats the woman with his baton striking her eight times in six seconds;

2:09:13: White-shirt punches the woman in the face, with his left-hand, landing five punches in five seconds, with all of his might;

2:09:35: Another officer joins in and starts beating the woman in the head with his baton, landing twelve strikes in seven seconds;

2:10:47: If you pause the video here, you will see the welts on the woman’s face along with a disturbing look of helplessness;

2:10:54: Officers push the woman around the tunnel;

2:10:55: The woman briefly collapses; 

2:11:13: White-shirt follows the woman to the front of the tunnel and beats her with his baton as she’s falling; 

2:11:24: The woman is taken to the back of tunnel and is never seen again.

These assaults occurred about 10 minutes before the lifeless body of Rosanne Boyland was seen lying on the ground, just outside the tunnel. Most of the violent brawls between police and protesters take place near this tunnel in response to what McBride calls “overwhelming police brutality and misconduct.” 

Body-worn camera footage released by the courts and seen here show Boyland on her side not moving as her friend, Justin Winchell, begged for help. “She’s gonna die!” Winchell tries to scream while holding on to Boyland. He turns to the crowd. “I need somebody, anybody,” he pleads. “She’s dead! She’s dead!”

McBride then confirms another report by American Greatness: “Roseanne (sic) Boyland’s body is dragged into the tunnel at 4:30 p.m., and is never seen again.” In September, I reported that, according to his congressional testimony, Officer Aquilino Gonell appears to be the person who handled Boyland’s body after she died, dragging her inside the building where he is then met by Officer Harry Dunn.

Dunn told the January 6 select committee in July that he carried an “unconscious woman,” presumably Boyland, into House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office.

The D.C. Medical Examiner’s Office concluded Boyland died of a drug overdose but that autopsy result is highly suspicious considering the video footage and first-hand accounts of others about what happened to her that afternoon.

Future court filings, interviews, and security footage will slowly reveal to the public how law enforcement, beginning at around 1 p.m. that day and continuing for hours, attacked and beat American citizens who dared to protest the election of Joe Biden. Further, it will become clear that Joe Biden’s Justice Department, with compliance by D.C. District Court judges, are keeping several eyewitnesses to the terror in the tunnel behind bars awaiting trials delayed until at least the middle of 2022. Nichols’ hearing for bond is set for December 20, at which point he will have been incarcerated for more than 11 months. (He has no court date.)

Much more to come as American Greatness continues to expose the truth about January 6.

About Julie Kelly

Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. She is the co-host of ‘Happy Hour podcast with Julie and Liz.’ She is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and two daughters.

Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

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