‘I was slipping in people’s blood’: Capitol cop who suffered traumatic brain injury on January 6 tells hearing she was in ‘hand-to-hand combat’ with rioters and returned to duty when she was knocked unconscious
- Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards recounted the harrowing scene she encountered defending the U.S. Capitol Building from pro-Trump rioters on January 6
- She was one of two in-person witnesses to testify before the House select committee on January 6 during the group’s first primetime hearing
- ‘I was slipping in people’s blood,’ she said. ‘It was carnage. It was chaos. I can’t even describe what I saw’
- She said that what she witnessed was out of a movie, specifically a ‘war scene’
Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards recounted the harrowing scene she encountered defending the U.S. Capitol Building from pro-Trump rioters on January 6 during the House January 6 select committee’s first primetime hearing Thursday.
‘I was slipping in people’s blood,’ said Edwards, one of two in-person witnesses the committee called to testify before an audience on Capitol Hill. ‘I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage. It was chaos. I can’t even describe what I saw. Never in my wildest dreams that as a police officer would I find myself in the middle of a battle.’
She said that what she witnessed was out of a movie.
‘What I saw was just a war scene,’ the officer recounted.
She gave committee members – including Chair Bennie Thompson and top Republican, Rep. Liz Cheney – a literal blow-by-blow account of the events, which left her unconscious for moments, and later with a traumatic brain injury.
Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards recounted the harrowing scene she encountered defending the U.S. Capitol Building from pro-Trump rioters on January 6 during the House January 6 select committee’s first primetime hearing Thursday
Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards (left) was one of two in-person witnesses to testify before the House select committee on January 6 during the group’s first primetime hearing. She took the oath alongside documentary filmmaker Nick Quested (right)
Video shows Capitol Police Office Caroline Edwards in a moment she described Thursday night – being knocked unconscious after a bike rack was thrown on her head
Capitol Police Office Caroline Edwards said she ‘caught the stair behind me and my chin hit the handrail and then – at that point I blacked out – but the back of my head clipped the concrete stairs behind me’
Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards also recounted seeing her colleague Officer Brian Sicknick, who died a day after the Capitol riot, looking ‘ghostly pale’ after he was sprayed with something during the riot
Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards arrives for the hearing of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on Thursday night
Edwards recalled that a group of protesters, led by one of the top Proud Boys Joseph Biggs, had gathered near her outside the Capitol Building and started increasingly becoming anti-police.
‘I know when I’m being turned into a villain – and that’s when I turned to my sergeant and I stated the understatement of the century. I said, “Sarge, I think we’re going to need a few more people down here,”‘ she testified.
She said Biggs and another Proud Boy, Ryan Samsel, ripped the first barricade down and approached the officers’ bike racks.
Edwards and other Capitol Police officers braced the bike racks.
‘I felt the bike rack come on top of my head and I was pushed backwards and my foot caught the stair behind me and my chin hit the handrail and then – at that point I blacked out – but the back of my head clipped the concrete stairs behind me,’ she said.
Cheney asked the officer if she was knocked unconscious and she answered in the affirmative.
‘Yes ma’am,’ Edwards answered to Cheney’s second question – whether she returned to duty.
Edwards said she tried to hold the West Front of the Capitol and was overpowered there. Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department officers showed up to assist, allowing Edwards to fall behind the line.
‘For awhile I started decontaminating people who had gotten sprayed and treating people medically who needed it,’ she recalled. ‘So after awhile I got back on the line, it was on the House side of the lower west stairs … and officer Sicknick was behind me.’
‘All of the sudden I see movement to the left of me, and it was officer Sicknick with his head in his hands and he was ghostly pale,’ she said. ‘Which I figured at that point he had been sprayed, and I was concerned. My cop alarm bells wetn off.’
She said if Sicknick would have been hit with pepper spray he would have turned red, not pale.
Sicknick died the next day. His family members were in the audience Thursday night.
‘And so I looked back to see what had happened, what had hit him and that’s when I got sprayed in the eyes as well,’ she said. ‘I was taken to be deconatminated by another officer but we didn’t get a chance because I got tear-gassed.’
Cheney then played a video where it appeared Edwards got sprayed.
At the top of her testimony, she compared what she endured to the experiences of her veteran grandfather, who fought in the Korean War and ‘lived with the rest of his days with bullets and shrapnel in his legs, but never once complained about his sacrifice’.
‘I was called a lot of things on January 6, 2021 and the days after. I was called Nancy Pelosi’s dog, called incompetent, called a hero and a villain.
‘I was called a traitor to my country, my oath and my Constitution. In actuality, I was none of those things. I was an American standing face to face with other Americans, asking myself, how many times, many, many, times, how we had gotten here?
‘I have been called names before, but never had my patriotism or duty been called into question. I, who got up every day, no matter how early the hour or how late I got in the night before, to put on my uniform and to protect America symbol of democracy. I, who spent countless hours in the baking sun and freezing snow to make sure that America’s elected officials were able to do their job. I, whose literal blood, sweat and tears were shed that day defending the building that I spent countless holidays and weekends working in,’ Edwards said.