The first time Victoria White visited the nation’s capital was on January 6, 2021. Listening to President Trump’s speech—with her teen daughter and three friends alongside her—would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, White thought.
Instead, the day turned into a personal nightmare with real-time flashbacks to her years as a victim of domestic abuse.
White, a mother of four, recounted to me this week by phone in horrifying and heartbreaking detail how at least two D.C. Metropolitan police officers viciously assaulted her inside a tunnel on the lower west terrace of the Capitol building on January 6. Fierce battles between police and protesters took place inside the tunnel, which leads to a set of doors that allows access to the building. It is the location where Rosanne Boyland, a 34-year-old Trump supporter from Georgia, died.
Amid video evidence, court filings, and firsthand witness accounts, new questions have emerged about the exact cause of Boyland’s death. A report issued by the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office in April claimed Boyland, a recovering addict, died of an accidental drug overdose. But others in the vicinity of Boyland when she lost consciousness insist her death was caused by law enforcement officers, who deployed a toxic chemical spray and, in some cases, used metal sticks, riot shields, and their own fists against Trump supporters.
White, 39, found herself in the tunnel near Boyland—and her harrowing account describes nothing short of criminal misconduct by still-unidentified members of the D.C. Metropolitan Police department. Further, her experience bolsters allegations that police contributed or directly caused the death of a second unarmed female Trump supporter on January 6.
Like hundreds of thousands of Americans, White traveled from her home to Washington, D.C. to hear President Trump’s speech and protest the results of the rigged 2020 presidential election. A resident of Rochester, Minnesota, White, her daughter, and friends took turns driving so they would arrive in Washington on time. They stayed at the home of one of her friend’s parents in suburban Virginia.
The group took a 5 a.m. train from Virginia and arrived at the “Save America” rally at the Ellipse around 7 a.m. to get good seats; people started lining up outside the staged area near the White House in the early hours of January 6. White’s group was seated behind the VIP section.
“The atmosphere was amazing, it was the happiest experience ever,” White told me in a text message. “I specifically remembered, before anyone spoke, the VIP people were all looking behind them and filming and taking pictures of the crowd of Americans and their flags.”
Everyone at the rally “had this feeling of peace and joy after a year of lockdowns and Patriots being criticized by the media,” she said.
White and her group were among the last to leave Trump’s hour-long speech, which began around noon. “We were in no rush,” she told me. “We were walking casually (toward Capitol Hill), just looking around at all the buildings thinking, ‘wow, we’re here,’ I had no idea what would take place.”
One friend, dressed in high heels, decided not to continue the nearly two-mile walk to the Capitol grounds. White’s daughter and two friends stayed back, so White and her other friend continued walking eastward. “There was no police presence,” White said, confirming what most protesters describe as nonexistent security throughout the capital that day. Streets leading to the Capitol were not closed to pedestrians, White said.
Along with tens of thousands of Trump speech goers, White and her friend ended up on the west side of the Capitol grounds. Temporary fencing, unbeknownst to those just arriving, had been torn down around 1 p.m. at the same time the first official breach of a thin police line on that side occurred.
Anyone who attended Trump’s full speech, which ended at 1:10 p.m., and took the 30 minute or so walk toward Capitol Hill was unaware that the grounds and the building itself officially had been closed to the public—likely by design.
“Tons of people were there, you couldn’t tell if you were standing on grass or cement it was so packed. People were singing and waving flags,” White said.
They approached the side of the Capitol building where staging for Joe Biden’s inauguration had been erected. People were climbing on the scaffolding, which looked to White like it was about to collapse. “My brothers are in construction so I knew the scaffolding wasn’t designed to hold that many people.” Fearful the structure would fall on top of her, White and her friend inched their way in the crowd closer to the building.
White then saw a man standing on a ledge near a window; as he attempted to break the glass, she began screaming at him. “I yelled, ‘we don’t do that shit’ and I grabbed his backpack to pull him off.” (Her account is confirmed by video and the government’s criminal complaint against her.)
The site of that confrontation is directly to the left of the lower west terrace tunnel. Looking for a way out of the dense crowd—she had lost sight of her friend at this point—White pushed her way toward the tunnel shortly after 4 p.m. and squeezed into the front opening.
That’s when she encountered a horror scene.
Grown men were crying, White said, from being doused repeatedly with a noxious chemical gas inside the tight confines of the tunnel. People were being crushed. Cops clad in full riot gear had filled the tunnel with the gas, causing victims to vomit and pass out.
“We were trapped. Police were pushing us out using riot shields and people outside were pushing in. I kept falling. A cop sprayed mace directly into my face.”
Then, she said, she felt the first blow.
It came out of nowhere, White told me. With her back to the line of officers, White tried to stand up but repeated blows to her head by an officer in a white shirt, presumably a D.C. Metro police supervisor, prevented her from regaining her footing.
“Because of my history, I started having flashbacks,” White told me slowly, choking up as she recalled what happened. “I felt like I had felt all those years, the times when I would get hit.” She remained crouched down as blow after blow, first by a stick then someone’s fist, landed on the top of her head and face. At one point, she confronted the abusive officer, reminding him “he took an oath to the Constitution.” Her remarks enraged the officer; he called her a “bitch” and continued the pummeling.
After several minutes, White was brought out of the tunnel by another officer. Her jacket, which she tied around her waist in the heated tunnel and contained her cell phone and money, was gone. So were her shoes. She was drenched in chemical spray.
For months after the attack, White thought she had been hit about three times. Either the effects of the suffocating chemical spray or survival instincts hardened after a decade of enduring domestic abuse seemingly anesthetized White from remembering all the brutal details.
It wasn’t until she finally viewed video evidence in June produced by the Justice Department under discovery in her criminal case that White realized the extent of the violent, almost sadistic, assault against her.
“I was absolutely horrified to see myself get hit and start to fall. There were multiple officers hitting people. One officer in a white shirt focused solely on me. He kept bashing and hitting me over and over.”
White described how the officer changed his grip on the metal rod—a device intended to break glass in emergencies, not to be used against human beings—to exact more force. “He begins to bash and poke me. Then another officer takes my hair and shakes my head back and forth.”
As if that weren’t enough, the supervisor wearing the white shirt starts hitting her directly in the face. “He takes his left hand, balls it up, and punches me in the face. I finally put my hand on my head and tried to grab his stick to get him to stop.”
Watching the full video, White said, triggered almost a PTSD response. “I really started to struggle, I don’t know if I can ever describe it, I was so overwhelmed.”
White’s account is vaguely referenced in the Justice Department’s own charging documents. Investigators claimed officers tried to “fend her off with a baton . . . and it appears that she is attempting to grab a shield and uses her hand to block the baton.”
A motion filed last month by Joseph McBride, her new attorney, in the case of Ryan Nichols (another January 6 client of McBride’s), provided more explicit details related to the attack on White. McBride viewed three hours of surveillance footage recorded by security cameras inside the tunnel on January 6; that video remains under a protective order for now.
According to McBride, the supervisor hit White at least 13 times with the metal stick and at least five times in her face with his fist. He then “spears and pokes [White] with his baton about the head, neck, and face so as to inflict maximum pain,” McBride wrote. This happened as White tried to escape the tunnel numerous times. Another officer joined in and “starts beating [White] in the head with his baton, landing twelve strikes in seven seconds.”
White’s head was bleeding; she was covered in red welts.
How White survived is anyone’s guess. “It’s a miracle,” she told me. “I could have died.”
McBride is petitioning the court to remove the protective order so the American people can see what happened inside the tunnel on January 6. The Press Coalition, representing 16 major news corporations, has joined McBride’s request to make the three-hour video public. Biden’s Justice Department has until Friday to respond.
In part two of my interview with Victoria White, she explains how her torture at the hands of police did not end after she exited the tunnel and how her legal and personal nightmare continues to this day.