Body-worn camera footage obtained by American Greatness of a D.C. Metropolitan police officer on duty on January 6, 2021, shows the chaos unfolding in real-time that day and how law enforcement’s response to the protest led to rising tension and deadly violence.
Officer Terrence Craig, an 11-year veteran of the force, testified last week in the criminal trial of Richard Barnett, the Arkansas man notoriously photographed with his feet on a desk in then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office on January 6, 2021. Nearly two-and-a-half hours of video was captured by Craig’s body-worn camera, providing an uninterrupted and shocking view of what happened inside and outside the building.
Never-before-seen interactions with police and protesters bolster demands by House Republicans to release all surveillance video recorded by Capitol security cameras on January 6.
Craig’s video starts with a group of D.C. Metro and Capitol Police advancing toward the west side of the building at 2:30 p.m. The first physical breach occurred about 15 minutes beforehand; Capitol police had used “nonlethal” munitions such as flashbangs, pepper balls, and tear gas on the crowd assembled outside on Capitol grounds for roughly an hour—the first time in department history that officers were ordered to use such dangerous crowd control devices on political protesters.
D.C. police were ordered to dress in full riot gear, including gas masks, face shields, gloves, and ballistic vests. Under cross-examination by Joseph McBride, one of Barnett’s defense attorneys, Craig admitted the officers were “fully geared up” before taking their positions.
McBride: So you’re fully geared up. You’re strapped up from head to toe?
McBride: Ready to rock and roll?
Craig also stated that officers carried a metal “asp,” a type of collapsible baton.
And “rock and roll” they did. The footage showed a dramatic shift in tone from the massive crowd assembled on the Capitol lawn as jack-booted cops arrived on the scene. Craig admitted as much. “[It] was peaceful heading up to the Capitol,” he told McBride. “You can hear the noise and the sounds, and you see the officers on the side.”
But chants of “U.S.A.! U.S.A!” quickly dissipated as the crowd grew agitated at the sight of police officers, faces obscured while dressed in military-type gear, forming groups on the upper terrace. (At least a few SWAT officers can be seen mingling with local police at around 2:45 p.m.)
Police continued to douse the crowd with chemical spray even though protesters were not attempting to breach a line of officers down below.
Craig entered the Rotunda around 2:50 p.m., about five minutes after the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt. The area at first appears sparsely populated with protesters and police; in one scene, officers appear to be tending to the injuries of an elderly man lying on the floor.
Physical and verbal confrontations started inside the Rotunda around 3:10 p.m. as police forcibly tried to move the increasingly packed crowd out of the area. “Do you feel big and strong now?” one woman asked the officers. “Does that get you off pushing around a bunch of women? A bunch of fucking unarmed women?” A female voice is then heard screaming, claiming she’s “trying to” get out of the building.
Craig walks throughout the building, at parts chaotic and other parts relatively calm. One man approached Craig to explain that police took his cell phone and asked how he could get it back. Craig’s answers are unintelligible, impaired by the gas mask and face shield. “Sir, I can’t understand you,” the man said as he followed Craig down a set of stairs.
“Wait, is this the Capitol?” the man asked Craig. “Are you serious?” he replied. “I’ve never seen it,” the man said, underscoring the fact many individuals had never before been in the Capitol and did not know where to go or how to exit.
Craig then takes a position outside the building around 3:50 p.m. amid a heavy police presence. The situation is relatively calm. Chants of “We the People” can be heard.
Some police are again confronted by protesters. “Are y’all gonna tear gas us?” one unidentified man said to a line of officers. One D.C. Metro police officer nodded his head. “It’s we the people, not we the cops,” another man shouted. By that point, three Trump supporters were dead, either wholly or partially due to excessive force.
At 4:20, Craig and several other officers suddenly rush back into the building and march toward the lower west terrace tunnel, the scene of the most violent clashes between police and protesters. (This is the same location where police are caught on camera beating women, including Victoria White.)
As Craig approached the mouth of the tunnel, angry shouts can be heard. “You need to stop! Stop!” one individual yelled at police. Several other men can be heard screaming for help while police spray more chemical gas into the crowd.
At least three men and a few officers are seen dragging the lifeless body of Rosanne Boyland to the mouth of the tunnel. Her shirt is pulled up near her head; one man is attempting to administer CPR. Previously-released footage and eyewitness accounts indicate that Boyland, 34, likely died after succumbing to the effects of toxic gas sprayed by police in the enclosed space and what appears to be a beating by another D.C. Metro officer.
“She’s fucking dead! This is on you, motherfuckers!” one man screamed at the officers, who continued to spray the men tending to Boyland. “This is the woman you killed, you fuckers!”
Some throw items at the front line of police as Boyland’s body is dragged face-up through the tunnel and into the building. Physical confrontations with officers continued for another 20 minutes.
Craig relayed his version of events to McBride. “I saw the dead young lady, and they dropped her right in front of me,” Craig calmly explained. “They just brought her and said, ‘Hey, do your job and take care of her.’”
(After prosecutors objected to the line of questions, Judge Christopher Cooper instructed McBride to avoid “[talking] about the circumstances of people dying.”)
Several men involved in the confrontations related to Boyland’s death were arrested, detained, and charged with assaulting police officers. The Department of Justice and news media have carefully controlled the narrative, portraying protesters as the perpetrators of violence rather than the victims, while justifying the fatalities of four Trump supporters on January 6. (Boyland was officially pronounced dead at 6:09 p.m. The D.C. coroner later claimed she died of a drug overdose, a dubious conclusion given public evidence to the contrary.)
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) are on record supporting the release of 14,000 hours of surveillance video from January 6. That demand has been met with some resistance from law enforcement; Capitol police officer Harry Dunn, who claimed protesters called him a racial slur with no evidence to prove his claim more than two years later, mocked the idea the tapes should be made public. “What the fuck more y’all wanna see? More terrorists beating cop’s asses?” Dunn asked on Twitter.
No, we want the unvarnished truth, not the police version of events. And as Craig’s body cam video showed, the American people still have much to learn about what happened on January 6.