WASHINGTON — A Washington, DC police officer who was run over by a pro-Trump mob in a tunnel leading to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, testified against one of the rioters accused of assaulting him on Tuesday.
Metropolitan Police officer Daniel Hodges, who has spoken publicly about being attacked on Capitol Hill, including before the Jan. 6 committee, appeared in court on Tuesday for the trial of three Capitol defendants: Patrick McCaughey III, Tristan Stevens and David Mehaffie. The case is before U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, the only federal judge in Washington to acquit a defendant on January 6.
McCaughey, according to the Justice Department, “threw his body weight” at Hodges and pressed a stolen police shield against him. Citing a video that went viral after the Jan. 6 attack, federal prosecutors wrote in a brief that Hodges was “screaming in pain, crushed between the shield held by defendant McCaughey and the door frame of the Capitol.”
Hodges, who has said in media appearances that Donald Trump exerts “sectarian” control over his supporters, told the court on Tuesday that the attack “hurt a lot” and that McCaughey’s actions contributed to his injuries that day.
“That, combined with everything that was going on, made it hard to breathe,” Hodges said. “Being crushed by the shield and the people behind it…leaving me defenseless, hurt.”
“There’s no good way to fight this,” he testified. “You have to endure the pressure it creates.”
Hodges testified that he had “never been in the United States Capitol building before” on January 6 and that his radio was stolen and he was separated from his platoon.
“I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t know if there was a way out. I was afraid that we would be put up against the wall both literally and figuratively”, he testified.
After being crushed in the tunnel on the west side of the Capitol, he eventually got away from the rioters and into the Capitol with the help of another officer who pulled him to safety.
“I knew that maintaining this position and staying upright was untenable. If I was there much longer being assaulted in this way, I knew it was very likely that I would not be able to maintain my consciousness and become a liability to the other officers.
Hodges said he felt relieved but also a little embarrassed that he had to be pulled out so soon after he was attacked and another rioter ripped off his gas mask, saying he had wanted to “come back as soon as possible” to battle. .
The government showed footage of Hodges’ swollen hand and bleeding lower lip, and Hodges also testified that he had a bruise on the top of his head after the attack.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Paschall, one of the federal prosecutors handling the case, held up a police shield during the trial, illustrating how, she said, McCaughey used it against Hodges and the line from police.
McCaughey, Hodges testified, was among the Jan. 6 rioters who tried to get police officers to resign during the attack.
“He was trying to get us to surrender, to join them,” Hodges said.
McCaughey’s co-defendants, Stevens and Mehaffie, were also charged in connection with the attack on police in the tunnel.
Mehaffie – whom online investigators on January 6 dubbed “Tunnel Commander” – is charged with one count of assaulting, resisting or obstructing officers, as well as criminal obstruction of official process and criminal civil disorder. Federal prosecutors say he “instructed the rioters when and where to push the police line, how to enter and exit in the most efficient manner, and handed a shield to the rioters to erect a wall against the police.”
Stevens, according to federal prosecutors, punched the Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell with a police shield. He is charged with three counts of assault, resisting or obstructing certain officers, as well as obstructing official process and civil disorder.
More than 850 people were arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, and the FBI has the names of hundreds of other rioters who have yet to be arrested. The total number of people who illegally entered the Capitol on January 6 is more than 2,500, and hundreds more are charged with assaulting law enforcement officers but not entering the Capitol .
More than 350 defendants pleaded guilty and more than a dozen were found guilty at trial.
Proud boy Joshua Pruitt was sentenced this week to 4½ years in federal prison, while Howard Richardson was sentenced to 3½ years after using a Trump flag to assault an officer.
Two defendants were sentenced to record sentences of more than seven years in federal prison: Thomas Robertson, a former Virginia police officer, and Guy Reffitt, a Texas extremist whose own son told the FBI about him before January 6. .
Federal prosecutors are seeking the longest sentence yet, 17.5 years in federal prison, for former New York police officer Thomas Webster, who tackled a Washington police officer to the ground and attempted to strike with a flagpole on January 6.