Fact Check: Did Capitol Police Let Protesters In?

Did Capitol Police Let Protesters In

Getty A protester holds a Trump flag inside the US Capitol Building near the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results.

Videos and interviews with protesters circulating on social media claim to show Capitol Police letting protesters into the Capitol building. But those claims are disputed, in some cases by the same people who shot the video.

A mob of protesters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 as Congress was holding a joint session to certify electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden. At the time of the breach at about 2:15 p.m., the Senate was debating whether to approve an objection to certify Biden’s electoral votes in Arizona.

Here’s what you need to know:

Some Say a Video of the Siege Shows Capitol Police Letting Protesters in, But the Man Who Shot the Video Says That Is False

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A video has been circulating online of protesters breaching the barrier to the Capitol building. The video was originally shared on TikTok and later shared on Twitter with the all-caps caption, “THEY LITERALLY JUST LET THEM THROUGH.”

But Marcus DiPaolo was the person who shot the video, and he said that isn’t true in an interview with New York Magazine’s Justin Miller.

Shortly before the barrier was breached, the police were outnumbered “100 to 1.” He said there were not enough reinforcements for police to hold protesters back because they were “hoping to avoid inflaming tensions.”

“They definitely didn’t just open the barriers, the pro-Trump rioters made a fist like they were going to punch the cops, which is why I started recording, then they backed off the barricades. Completely outnumbered, there wouldn’t have been any point in fighting,” DiPaolo said.

DiPaolo took a video that has been widely circulated on social media, with people saying it looked like cops let the protesters through the barrier.

He said the cops didn’t open the gates, adding “No, the barrier was there, protesters just pushed it aside and the cops abandoned their post.”

Jake Angeli, a well-known QAnon influencer who was a central figure in the protests, claimed the police initially held them back, then let him in and politely asked him to leave. Angeli is the protester who was wearing a horned helmet and pictured behind the Senate dais.

Adrian Miller of the Globe and Mail in Toronto wrote on Twitter, “I spoke with Jake Angeli, the QAnon guy who got inside the Senate chamber. He said police eventually gave up trying to stop him and other Trump supporters, and let them in. After a while, he said police politely asked him to leave and let him go without arrest.”

Former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer Said He Wants to Give Police ‘The Benefit of the Doubt’

NBC News interviewed former US Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer about claims Capitol Police let protesters into the building. While Gainer wasn’t there and can’t say with certainty what happened, he said it is likely police were trying to deescalate the situation and became overwhelmed. He said he wants to give the officers the “benefit of the doubt.”

He said there were not enough police on the scene during an interview with the “Today” show.

“Sometimes when you don’t have enough personnel, you can’t stand and fight a large crowd like that,” he said.

He continued, “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.”

Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund released a statement Thursday. He said officers were being “actively attacked” and they “were determined to enter into the Capitol building by causing great damage.” Sund said police “had a robust plan” and commended officers for their actions, calling them “heroic.” He 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.

More than 50 Capitol and Washington police officers were injured, and several Capitol Police officers were hospitalized with serious injuries, he said.

“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.”

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