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Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman offers new Jan. 6 details at trial of QAnon believer

The officer testified that he was bear sprayed and hit with tear gas before his viral encounter with Capitol rioter Doug Jensen outside the Senate chamber.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who is credited with protecting members of Congress during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, by diverting rioters from the floor of the Senate, testified Wednesday at the trial of one of the men who led the mob he faced down.

Goodman testified at the jury trial of Doug Jensen, an Iowa man in a "QAnon" shirt who was one of the first 10 people who went into the Capitol through a broken window on Jan. 6, according to video and the Justice Department. Jensen is charged with numerous offenses, including felony charges of civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting or impeding officers.

After the attack, Goodman, an Army veteran, escorted Vice President Kamala Harris during the inauguration and was honored by Congress for his actions on Jan. 6, when he steered the mob away from the Senate chamber as members were still evacuating.

Video shot by HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic, which went viral on Jan. 6, shows Jensen leading the mob as an outnumbered Goodman tries to get them to back up, but the mob moves forward and chases Goodman up the stairs.

Goodman told jurors that he had been with the Capitol Police for 15 years and that he previously was deployed to Iraq with the Army. He described arriving at the Capitol complex around 5 a.m. on Jan. 6 and seeing that pro-Trump protesters were already arriving at nearby Union Station as they made their way to President Donald Trump’s speech.

Goodman had been assigned to man the Capitol rotunda, guarding the path senators and House members would take as they moved between chambers during the certification of the 2020 presidential election, which requires a joint session of Congress. Goodman filled in some of the details of what his day looked like before the incidents in the viral video, telling the jury that he went outside and took an arrestee — one of the first people taken into custody that day — to a transport van before he returned to the west side of the Capitol, where a battle he described as "medieval" was unfolding as rioters were "fighting and punching" police.

Goodman said he found himself holding pepper spray in one hand and his baton in the other as police faced off with rioters. He was hit in the face with bear spray and hit with tear gas deployed by law enforcement, he said. As more officers arrived, he was able to go inside to a triage area, where he described throwing up in a bucket before he returned outside.

He said a crowd of what "looked like thousands" was overwhelming police and climbing all over the scaffolding. He then went back to the rotunda after he heard the Senate had been breached and started making his way to the Senate side, where he encountered Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah. Video released during Trump's second impeachment trial showed Goodman directing Romney to turn around just after the mob had breached the building.

Goodman described being jabbed at by a man with a Confederate flag. He also said he had his hand on his gun when he encountered the rioters at the bottom of the stairs, which he said he rarely does.

“I’m boxed in. I have no out but the stairs at this point,” he said. He recalled telling Jensen that he would shoot if he was attacked. Jensen replied with something to the effect of “do what you gotta do," Goodman said.

“He just kept coming closer,” Goodman said. “I felt like they were going to rush at any time.”

Goodman testified that he stayed at work past midnight into Jan. 7, helping clear rooms and getting a senator out of a hideaway office. The Senate chamber itself went through sweeps by K-9 units and bomb squads so Congress could resume its work, Goodman said.

Jensen has been in pretrial custody since last year. He had been released in a high-intensity pretrial release program, but the judge ordered him detained again last year after he was discovered alone in his garage using an iPhone to stream MyPillow founder Mike Lindell’s cyber symposium about the 2020 presidential election, in violation of his conditions of release. (The FBI recently seized Lindell’s cellphone at a Hardee’s.)

Smoke fills the walkway outside the Senate Chamber as supporters of President Donald Trump, including Doug Jensen, center, are confronted by Capitol Police officers on Jan. 6, 2021.
Smoke fills the walkway outside the Senate chamber as supporters of President Donald Trump, including Doug Jensen, center, are confronted by Capitol Police officers on Jan. 6, 2021.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP file

Two days after the Jan. 6 attack, Jensen told the FBI how he came to believe conspiracy theories about the election and a variety of other topics, even asking special agents whether the Washington Monument was "supposed to be a giant penis." Jensen said that he was "the conspiracy nut at work" and that he regularly checked QAnon forums.

"Every time Q always says something, it always happens," Jensen said. "Every time Q said anything, it always came true." (None of the concrete predictions attributed to the anonymous Q account have come to fruition.)

In opening arguments Tuesday, Jensen's defense attorney, Christopher Davis, argued that evidence in the case will demonstrate that his client genuinely believed in QAnon, that “the storm” had arrived on Jan. 6 and that law enforcement would arrest corrupt politicians. He told jurors to expect to see video of Jensen telling officers to do their job throughout the trial. 

“He believed they were obligated to do it,” Davis continued, adding that Jensen thought martial law was going to be instituted on Jan. 6. 

“He’s not terribly sophisticated,” Davis added, saying his client went down a rabbit hole when he got sucked into online conspiracy theories.

Davis stressed, however, that jurors wouldn’t see his client lay a hand on anyone and asked them to separate Jensen from the events of the day and judge him for who he is.

He also said Jensen regularly carries a pocketknife, which he did both at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and when he spoke with the FBI, because he is a construction worker. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Allen said in opening arguments that Jensen was “well aware” by December 2020 of the possibility of violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Honestly I thought I was at the White House at first. I know it sounds stupid,” Jensen told the FBI, adding that he soon “realized I was at the Capitol.”

Allen argued that Jensen had figured out where he was by the time he entered the building.

“Mr. Jensen knew he was at the Capitol,” Allen said.

The FBI has arrested more than 850 defendants in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. This week, it announced the arrests of five members of the far-right group America First, alleging they entered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's conference room.