Jul 27, 2021
Officer Michael Fanone Testimony Transcript: House Investigation of January 6 Capital Attack
Capitol Police Officer Michael Fanone provided testimony on his experience in the January 6 attack during a House investigation on July 27, 2021. Read the transcript of his speech remarks here.
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Michael Fanone: (00:00)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of this committee, for inviting me to provide my eyewitness testimony of the violent assault on our nation’s Capitol on January 6th, 2021. My name, for those of you who don’t know, is Michael Fanone. And while I’ve been a sworn officer with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., for almost two decades, my law enforcement career actually began here in this building as United States, Capitol Police officer shortly after 9/11. In part, because of the 2001 attack on our country by terrorists, I felt called to serve.
Michael Fanone: (00:37)
As a Capitol police officer, I was proud to protect this institution and dedicated members of Congress and their staff who work hard each day to uphold our American democracy. I remain proud of the work of the United States Capitol Police and MPD officers who literally commit their lives to protecting the safety of each of you and all of us in this room, in our nations Capitol.
Michael Fanone: (01:04)
After leaving the United States Capitol Police, I became MPD officer serving the residents of Washington D.C. I have spent the majority of my nearly 20 years as a Metropolitan Police Officer, working in special mission units whose responsibilities include the investigation and arrest of narcotics traffickers and violent criminals. I’ve worked both as an undercover officer and a lead-case officer in many of these investigations.
Michael Fanone: (01:34)
In this lot of work, it probably won’t shock you to know that I’ve dealt with some dicey situation. I thought I’d seen it all, many times over. Yet what I witnessed and experienced on January 6th, 2021, was unlike anything I had ever had seen, anything I’d ever experienced or could have imagined in my country. On that day, I participated in the defense of the United States Capitol from an armed mob, an armed mob of thousands determined to get inside.
Michael Fanone: (02:11)
Because I was among the vastly outnumbered group of law enforcement officers protecting the Capitol and the people inside it. I was grabbed, beaten, tased, all while be called a traitor to my country. I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm as I heard chance of, “Killing with his own gun.” I could still hear those words in my head today.
Michael Fanone: (02:37)
Although I regularly deal with risky situations on the job, nowhere in my wildest imagination did I ever expect to be in that situation or sitting here before you talking about it. That experience and its aftermath was something that not even my extensive law enforcement training could prepare me for. I was just one of hundreds of local police who lined up to protect Congress, even though I had not been assigned to do that. Some had asked why we ran to help when we didn’t have to. I did that because I simply could not ignore what was happening.
Michael Fanone: (03:18)
Like many other officers, I could not ignore the numerous calls, numerous calls for help coming from the Capitol complex. I’m a plain clothes officer assigned to them first districts crime suppression team. But for the first time in nearly a decade, I put all my uniform.
Michael Fanone: (03:38)
When my partner, Jimmy Albright, and I arrived at the Capitol around 3:00 that afternoon, it was like an, excuse me, it was unlike any scene I had ever or witnessed. Jimmy parked our police vehicle near the intersection of South Capitol Street and D Street in Southeast. And we walked to the Capitol from there, passing the Longworth House Office Building. It was eerily quiet. And the sidewalks, usually filled with pedestrians, were empty.
Michael Fanone: (04:08)
As we made our way to Independence Avenue, I could see dozens of empty police vehicles that filled the street. Police barricades which had been abandoned and hundreds of angry protestors, many of whom taunted us as we walk towards the Capitol building. Jimmy and I immediately began to search for an area where we could be of most assistance. We made our way through door on the south side of the Capitol, walking then into the crypt and finally down to the Lower West Terrace tunnel.
Michael Fanone: (04:41)
It was there that I observed a police commander struggling to breathe as he dealt with the effects of CS gas that lingered in the air. Then I watched him collect himself, straightened his cap and trench coat, adorned with its Silvery Eagles, and returned to the lot. That commander was Ramy Kyle of the Metropolitan Police Department. And those images are etched into my memory, never to be forgotten.
Michael Fanone: (05:09)
In the midst of that intense and chaotic scene, Commander Kyle remain cool, calm, and collected as he gave commands to his officers, “Hold the line.” He shouted over the roar. Of course, that day, the line was the seat of our American government. Despite the confusion and stress to the situation, observing Ray’s leadership, protecting a place I cared so much about, was the most inspirational moment of my life. The bravery he and others showed that day are the best examples of duty, honor, and service.
Michael Fanone: (05:46)
Each of us who carries a badge should bring those core values to our work every day. The fighting in the Lower West Terrace tunnel was nothing short of brutal. Here, I observed approximately 30 police officers standing shoulder to shoulder, maybe four or five abreast, using the weight of their bodies to hold back the onslaught of violent attackers. Many of these officers were injured, bleeding, and fatigued, but they continue to hold the line.
Michael Fanone: (06:18)
As I don’t have to tell the members in this room, the tunnel is a narrow and long hallway. It is not the sort of space anyone would want to be pulled into hand-to-hand combat with an angry mob. Although the narrowness of the hallway provided what was probably the only chance of holding back the crowd from entering your personal offices, the House, and Senate chambers
Michael Fanone: (06:43)
In an attempt to assist injured officers, Jimmy and I asked them if they needed a break. There were no volume tears. Selflessly, those off to serve only identified other colleagues who may be in need of assistance. The fighting dragged on. I eventually joined the tactical line at the tunnel’s entrance. I can remember looking around and being shocked by the sheer number of people fighting us.
Michael Fanone: (07:13)
As my police body-worn camera shows, thousands upon thousands of people seemingly determined to get past us by any means necessary. At some point during the fighting, I was dragged from the line of officers and into the crowd. I heard someone scream, “I got one.” As I was swarmed by a violent mob, they ripped off my badge, they grabbed and stripped me of my radio, they seized ammunition that was secured to my body. They began to beat me with their fists and with what felt like hard metal objects.
Michael Fanone: (07:50)
At one point, I came face-to-face with an attacker who repeatedly launched for me and attempted to remove my firearm. I heard chanting from some in the crowd, “Get his gun and kill him with his own gun.” I was aware enough to recognize I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm. I was electrocuted again, and again, and again, with a taser. I’m sure I was screaming, but I don’t think I could even hear my own voice.
Michael Fanone: (08:25)
My body camera captured the violence of the crowd directed toward me during those very frightened winning moments. It’s an important part of the record for this committee’s investigation, for the country’s understanding of how I was assaulted and nearly killed as the mob attacked the Capitol that day. And I hope that everyone will be able to watch it.
Michael Fanone: (08:45)
The portions of the video I’ve seen remained extremely painful for me to watch at times, but is it essential that everyone understands what really happened that tragic day. During those moments, I remember thinking there was a very good chance I would be torn apart or shot to death with my own weapon. I thought of my four daughters who might lose their dad. I remain grateful That no member of Congress had to go through the violent assault that I experienced that day.
Michael Fanone: (09:17)
During the assault, I thought about using my firearm on my attackers, but I knew that if I did, I would be quickly overwhelmed. And that, in their minds, would provide them with the justification for killing me. So I instead decided to appeal to any humanity they might have. I said as loud as I could manage, “I’ve got kids.” Thankfully, some of the crowds stepped in and assisted me. Those few individuals protected me from a crowd and inch me toward the Capitol until my fellow officers could rescue me. I was carried back inside.
Michael Fanone: (09:58)
What happened afterwards is much less vivid. I had been beaten, unconscious and remained so for more than four minutes. I know that Jimmy helped to evacuate me from the building and drove me to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, despite suffering significant injuries himself. At the hospital, doctors told me that I had suffered a heart attack. And I was later diagnosed with a concussion, a traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Michael Fanone: (10:27)
As my physical injuries gradually subsided and the adrenaline that had stayed with me for weeks waned, I’ve been left with the psychological trauma and the emotional anxiety of having survived such a horrific event. And my children continue to deal with the trauma of nearly losing their dad that day.
Michael Fanone: (10:48)
What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens, including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend, are downplaying or outright denying what happened. I feel like I went to hell and back to protect them and the people in this room, but too many are now telling me that hell doesn’t exist, or that hell actually wasn’t that bad.
Michael Fanone: (11:19)
The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful. My law enforcement career prepared me to cope with some of the aspects of this experience. Being an officer, you know your life is at risk whenever you walk out the door. Even if you don’t expect otherwise law abiding citizens to take up arms against you. But nothing, truly nothing, has prepared me to address those elected members of our government who continue to deny events of that day.
Michael Fanone: (11:55)
And in doing so betray their oath of office, those very members whose lives, offices, staff members I was fighting so desperately to defend. I agreed to speak here today and have talked publicly about what happened, because I don’t think our response to the insurrection should have anything to do with political parties. I know that what my partner, Jimmy, and I suited up for on January 6th didn’t have anything to do with political parties, or about politics, or what political party any of you public servants belong to.
Michael Fanone: (12:43)
I’ve worked in this city for two decades and I’ve never cared about those things, no matter who was in office. All I’ve ever cared about is protecting you and the public. So you can do your job in service to this country and for those whom you represent. I appreciate your time and attention. I look forward to the committee’s investigation. And I’m hopeful with your commitment, we as a country will confront the truth of what happened on January 6th, and do what is necessary to make sure this institution of our democracy never falls into the hands of a violent and angry mob.
Michael Fanone: (13:25)
We must also recognize the officers who responded that day, many unsolicited in their countless acts of bravery and selflessness. It has been 202 days since 850 MPD officers responded to the Capitol and help stop a violent insurrection from taking over this Capitol complex, which almost certainly saved countless members of Congress and their staff from injury and possibly death. The time to fully recognize these officers is now.
Michael Fanone: (14:01)
Thank you again for the opportunity to provide my testimony here today.