US Capitol officers sue Trump for ‘inciting’ January 6 riot

The officers said they suffered ‘physical and emotional injuries’ in the riot they said was ‘aided and abetted’ by Trump.

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier during the January 6 Capitol riot [File: John Minchillo/The Associated Press]

Two Capitol Police officers have sued former United States President Donald Trump for inciting the January 6 insurrection that left dozens of their fellow officers injured and one dead.

Officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby said they suffered “physical and emotional injuries” in the riot they said was fomented by Trump and his campaign of misinformation as he sought to overturn the election victory of President Joe Biden. Five people died in the breach, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.

“The insurrectionists were spurred on by Trump’s conduct over many months in getting his followers to believe his false allegation that he was about to be forced out of the White House because of massive election fraud,” they said in the suit filed in federal court in Washington, DC.

“The insurrectionist mob, which Trump had inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed, and aided and abetted, forced its way over and past the plaintiffs and their fellow officers, pursuing and attacking them,” they said.

Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the Capitol police force, said he incurred injuries to his head and back and suffers emotionally from the event, which occurred as Congress met to certify the election results.

The African-American officer said he was also subjected to racist attacks during the assault on Congress from the Trump supporters.

Hemby, an 11-year officer, said he has hand and knee injuries after being crushed against Capitol building doors, and was sprayed in his face and on his body by chemical sprays in the attack.

“Officer Hemby normally has a calm demeanor but has struggled to manage the emotional fallout from being relentlessly attacked,” the suit said.

The lawsuit compiles numerous instances in which it says Trump encouraged the insurrection.

It accuses Trump of directing and abetting assault and battery and emotional distress, incitement to riot, and violating public safety statutes.

The officers asked the court for compensatory damages of a minimum of $75,000 each and an unstated amount in punitive damages.

To date, more 300 people have been charged over the riot. While federal authorities have said they are still looking into Trump’s role in supporting the violence – federal charges against the former president are considered unlikely.

Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on allegations of “incitement of insurrection” following the incident, but was later acquitted, mostly along party lines in a Senate trial.

However, seven Republican senators split from their party to vote to convict Trump, with more legislators breaking party ranks than in any previous Senate impeachment trial.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies