Between the two of them, U.S. Capitol Police Officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby put in nearly three decades protecting Congress, but neither of them had ever experienced anything like what occurred on the date of the Jan. 6th siege. In a lawsuit replete with the former president’s tweets, the officers claim that Donald Trump “inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed, and aided and abetted” his followers to assault them.
“Foremost in Officer Blassingame’s mind was the terrifying certainty that the insurrectionists were interested in him and the other officers not going home to their families that night,” Tuesday’s lawsuit states, describing rioters pushing the officer against a stone column, striking his spine and his head.
Blassingame claims that rioters repeatedly called him the n-word repeatedly throughout the mob’s attack in the Crypt, an account shared by many police officers that day.
“He lost count of the many times the racial slur was hurled at him,” the complaint continues.
One of the most agonizing videos of the siege showed a mob apparently crushing Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges, who could be seen writhing in pain in the U.S. Capitol doors. A Connecticut man has been charged with that attack. Officer Hemby alleges a similar experience in the lawsuit.
“Officer Hemby was crushed against the doors on the east side trying to hold the insurrectionists back,” the complaint states. “Over and over, he tried to tell the insurrectionists that the doors opened outward and that pressing him into the door would do no good.”
“But the insurrectionists continued to scream, ‘Fight for Trump,’ ‘Stop the Steal,’ and various other slogans, as they struck him with their fists and whatever they had in their hands,” it continues. “Things were being thrown at him, and he was sprayed with chemicals that irritated his eyes, skin, and throat.”
Prosecutors have accused multiple rioters of assaulting police with bear spray, including against late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. The fallen officer’s accused assailants—George Pierre Tanios, 39, and Julian Elie Khater, 32—now face federal prosecution, though they have not been accused of killing Sicknick. Capitol Police Capt. Carneysha Mendoza told Congress about the lingering effects of chemical burns on her face from CS gas used by rioters in her wrenching testimony in February.
Blassingame and Hemby’s lawsuit alleges multiple counts against Trump for directing with their assault, aiding and abetting their assault, directing their emotional distress and inciting a riot under D.C. code.
The officers note that post-election violence spurred on by Trump’s rhetoric did not begin on Jan. 6th.
“As before, members of far right-wing hate groups appeared at the second ‘Million MAGA March,’ and Trump followers clashed with D.C. police, at least eight of whom were injured. Four people were stabbed,” the lawsuit states. “The police made over thirty arrests including ten arrests for assault on a police officer, eleven arrests for simple assault, one arrest for assault with a deadly weapon,and two arrests for possession of a prohibited weapon.”
The day before the siege, Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was arrested entering Washington, D.C. on weapons possession charges. The lawsuit quotes Trump’s comments that the extremist group “stand back and stand by,” during a debate with then-candidate Joe Biden.
“The Proud Boys would go on to become a core group of January 6 insurrectionists,” the lawsuit notes.
Trump’s lawyer Jesse Binnall did not respond to an email requesting comment.
Attorney Patrick A. Malone, who filed the lawsuit on the officers’ behalf, declined comment beyond the allegations in the complaint and interview requests with the officers.
“The insurrection was a traumatic event and hard to relive, especially for people not used to being in the public eye,” Malone told Law&Crime in an email.
Read the complaint below:
[Image via Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images]
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