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Capitol Police Chief Resigns as National Security Concerns from Riot Assessed

Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund has resigned amid fury on Capitol Hill over his department’s security posture and response to the mob of Trump supporters that breached the building and descended on the House and Senate on Wednesday.

Capitol Police said in a statement late Thursday that Officer Brian D. Sicknick passed away at about 9:30 p.m. due to injuries suffered during the riot. Fifty-six officers were injured in the Wednesday riot, and several were hospitalized.

Federal criminal cases were filed against 15 rioters today, and an additional 40 cases in D.C. Superior Court.  Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin told reporters that the national security impact from rioters ransacking congressional offices was not yet known. “Electronic items were stolen from senators’ offices,” he said. “Documents, materials were stolen and we have to identify what was done, mitigate that, and it could have potential national security equities.”

One woman was shot by Capitol Police as she tried to enter through a broken pane of glass toward the Speaker’s Lobby on the House side. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) told ABC News today that he witnessed the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, 35, of San Diego. “When they broke the glass in the back, the [police] lieutenant that was there, him and I already had multiple conversations prior to this, and he didn’t have a choice at that time,” Mullin said. “The mob was going to come through the door, there was a lot of members and staff that were in danger at the time.”

Sund said in a statement today that “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.”

Three other people suffered medical emergencies that were ultimately fatal, Capitol Police said: Benjamin Phillips, 50, of Ringtown, Pa., Kevin Greeson, 55, of Athens, Ala., and Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Ga. Greeson reportedly suffered a heart attack, Phillips reportedly suffered a stroke, and Boyland was reportedly crushed by the crowd.

People in the mob “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,” Sund said. “They were determined to enter into the Capitol Building by causing great damage.”

“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.  Maintaining public safety in an open environment – specifically for First Amendment activities – has long been a challenge. The USCP had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities.  But make no mistake – these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior.  The actions of the USCP officers were heroic given the situation they faced, and I continue to have tremendous respect in the professionalism and dedication of the women and men of the United States Capitol Police,” Sund continued. “The USCP is conducting a thorough review of this incident, security planning and policies and procedures.”

Later in the day, it was announced that Sund would resign on Jan. 16. Sund had been with D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department for 25 years and joined Capitol Police in 2017. He was sworn in as chief of police in June 2019.

The Associated Press reported that Capitol Police prepared only for a free-speech demonstration and turned down offers of help from the Defense Department and FBI before the riot.

“There was a failure of leadership at the top,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said.

This story was updated Jan. 8 at 8:30 a.m.

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a speciality in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, anti-Semitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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