Police officers sue Trump, allies over Capitol insurrection

Published August 27, 2021
US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the daily briefing on Covid-19 at the White House on April 15, 2020. — AFP/File
US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during the daily briefing on Covid-19 at the White House on April 15, 2020. — AFP/File

WASHINGTON: US Capitol Police officers who were attacked and beaten during the Capitol riot filed a lawsuit on Thursday against former President Donald Trump, his allies and members of far-right extremist groups, accusing them of intentionally sending a violent mob on Jan 6 to disrupt the congressional certification of the election.

The suit in federal court in Washington alleges Trump worked with white supremacists, violent extremist groups, and campaign supporters to violate the Ku Klux Klan Act, and commit acts of domestic terrorism in an unlawful effort to stay in power.

The suit was filed on behalf of the seven officers by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. It names the former president, the Trump campaign, Trump ally Roger Stone and members of the extremist groups the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who were present at the Capitol and in Washington on Jan 6.

Two other similar cases have been filed in recent months by Democratic members of Congress. The suits allege the actions of Trump and his allies led to the violence siege of the Capitol that injured dozens of police officers, halted the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s electoral victory and sent lawmakers running for their lives as rioters stormed into the seat of American democracy wielding bats, poles and other weapons.

A House committee has started in earnest to investigate what happened that day, sending out requests Wednesday for documents from intelligence, law enforcement and other government agencies. Their largest request so far was made to the National Archive for information on Trump and his former team.

Trump accused the committee of violating long-standing legal principles of privilege” but his team had no immediate comment on Thursday’s lawsuit.

Executive privilege will be defended, not just on behalf of my Administration and the Patriots who worked beside me, but on behalf of the Office of the President of the United States and the future of our Nation, Trump said.

The suit names as defendants several people who have been charged with federal crimes related to the riot. They are alleged to have conspired to use force, intimidation, and threats to prevent Joe Biden and Kamala Harris from taking office, to prevent Congress from counting the electoral votes, and to prevent the Capitol Police from carrying out their lawful duties.

The filing provides vivid accounts of the injuries the officers sustained while trying to fend off the mob as rioters pushed past lines of overwhelmed law enforcers and barged into the Capitol. One officer, Jason DeRoche, was hit with batteries and sprayed with mace and bear spray until his eyes were swollen shut. A second officer, Governor Latson, was inside the Senate chamber when the rioters broke through the doors and beat him as they shouted racial slurs, according to the suit.

We joined the Capitol Police to uphold the law and protect the Capitol community, the group of officers said in a statement released by their lawyers. On Jan 6 we tried to stop people from breaking the law and destroying our democracy. Since then our jobs and those of our colleagues have become infinitely more dangerous. We want to do what we can to make sure the people who did this are held accountable and that no one can do this again.

The documents requested by the House committee this week are just the beginning of what is expected to be lengthy, partisan and rancorous congressional investigation into how the mob was able to infiltrate the Capitol and disrupt the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory, inflicting the most serious assault on Congress in two centuries.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2021

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