Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called for the resignation of Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund in the day after the surge on the US Capitol building and police shooting of a protester. He entered his resignation and left abruptly. Yogananda Pittman was named as the new acting chief.
Capitol Police have been also blasted on social media, with some claiming police let protesters into the building. Those claims have been disputed.
Sund was sworn in as chief in 2019, according to his online profile. More than 50 police officers were injured in the protests, including some hospitalized with serious injuries.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sund Made a Statement Commending His Officers & Said Their Actions Were ‘Heroic’
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund released a statement Thursday, detailing the police actions during the protest and defending them. He said officers were being “actively attacked” and protesters “were determined to enter into the Capitol building by causing great damage.”
“United States Capitol Police (USCP) officers and our law enforcement partners responded valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions as they stormed the United States Capitol Building,” his statement said. “These individuals actively attacked United States Capitol Police Officers and other uniformed law enforcement officers with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants, and took up other weapons against our officers. They were determined to enter into the Capitol Building by causing great damage.”
He disputed claims that police stood down, and said police “had a robust plan.” He commended officers for their actions, calling them “heroic” and described the protesters actions as “criminal riotous behavior.”
Sund further confirmed it was a Capitol Police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt. He did not name the officer, and said that person was placed on administrative leave. He said further investigation would take place. Officers were responding to a report of a pipe bomb at the same time, he said.
“As protesters were forcing their way toward the House Chamber where Members of Congress were sheltering in place, a sworn USCP employee discharged their service weapon, striking an adult female. Medical assistance was rendered immediately, and the female was transported to the hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries. She has been identified as Ashli Babbitt,” he said. “As per the USCP’s policy, the USCP employee has been placed on administrative leave and their police powers have been suspended pending the outcome of a joint Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and USCP investigation.”
Some officers were hospitalized with serious injuries, he said. More than 50 Capitol and Washington police officers were among the injured.
“United States Capitol Police officers and our law enforcement partners responded valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions as they stormed the United States Capitol Building,” Sund said in a press conference. “The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.”
2. Sund Has Been the Capitol Police Chief Since June 2019 & Joined USCP in 2017
Sund was sworn in as chief of the US Capitol Police in June 2019, according to the US Capitol Police. He joined the United States Capitol Police (USCP) in 2017 as the Assistant Chief of Police and Chief of Operations. Before that, he served with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in Washington, D.C., for more than 25 years.
“Chief Sund is well known and respected in the law enforcement and academic communities for his senior command and operational experience as well as his specialized education and training,” his profile says.
He retired from MPD as the Commander of the Special Operations Division, within the Homeland Security Bureau, the profile says.
“In this assignment, then-Commander Sund oversaw a number of specialized units to include the Emergency Response Team; Aviation and Harbor Units; Horse Mounted and Canine Units; Special Events/Dignitary Protection Branch; Major Crash and Commercial Motor Carrier Enforcement; Automated Traffic Enforcement, and the Domestic Security Operations Unit,” his profile says. “During his career, Sund coordinated a number of National Special Security Events (NSSE) by the Department of Homeland Security, to include the 2001, 2005, 2009, and 2013 Presidential Inaugurations.”
3. Capitol Police Said Sund Is a ‘Recognized Expert in Critical Incident Management’
Sund is a “recognized expert in critical incident management and active shooter preparedness and response,” according to Capitol Police. He served as the on-scene commander in three notorious active shooter situations in the Washington, DC area and handled multiple barricade and hostage situations with a zero-fatality record.
“Chief Sund is a recognized expert in critical incident management and active shooter preparedness and response,” his online profile says. “His experience involves being the on-scene incident commander on the 2009 shooting at the National Holocaust Museum, the 2012 shooting at the Family Research Council, and the 2013 active shooter incident at the Washington Navy Yard. In addition, he has handled dozens of criminal barricade and hostage situations with an impressive record of zero fatalities.”
Sund has also received “numerous awards and certifications” and served as an instructor with the United States Secret Service in major events planning. He also taught Incident Command System (ICS) at the George Washington University as an adjunct professor. He previously worked in the private sector for a nonprofit science, technology, and strategy organization as a director in the area of National Security and Intelligence, his profile says, without naming the organization.
Sund earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Arts in Homeland Security from the Naval Postgraduate School, his profile says.
4. Former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer Gave Police ‘The Benefit of the Doubt’
US Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said he wanted to give police “the benefit of the doubt” in an interview with NBC News. Gainer was not present and can’t definitively say what happened, but said it is likely police were trying to deescalate the situation and became overwhelmed by the horde.
He said on the “Today” show there weren’t enough police on the scene to effectively handle the situation.
“Sometimes when you don’t have enough personnel, you can’t stand and fight a large crowd like that,” he said.
He further said, “Clearly there’s failure. There has to be a lot of questions asked and answers given. What is very clear is the police underestimated the violent crowd and the size of it, and they overestimated their ability to control it.”
5. Nancy Pelosi Said Sund Should Resign Following Breach of the Capitol
Pelosi called for the resignation of Sund during a statement the day after the surge on the Capitol. She further cast blame of Trump for “inciting an insurrection.”
“Good afternoon,” she began. “I don’t know if the word good is the way to describe it, because yesterday the President of the United States incited an armed insurrection against America, the gleeful desecration of the US Capitol, which is the temple of our American democracy, and the violence against Congress are horrors that will forever stain our nation’s history. Instigated by the President of the United States. That’s why it’s such a stain.”
She also said House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving would be resigning following the surge on the Capitol. Sund’s spokesperson told Politico earlier he has no plans to step down.