UNITED STATES

Lawmakers vow to investigate police after Capitol breach

Jan 7, 2021, 9:45 AM
Police keep a watch on demonstrators who tried to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6...

Police keep a watch on demonstrators who tried to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers are vowing an investigation into how law enforcement handled Wednesday’s violent breach at the Capitol, questioning whether a lack of preparedness allowed a mob to occupy and vandalize the building.

U.S. Capitol Police, who are charged with protecting Congress, turned to other law enforcement for help with the mob that overwhelmed the complex and sent lawmakers into hiding. Both law enforcement and Trump supporters deployed chemical irritants during the hourslong occupation of the complex before it was cleared Wednesday evening.

Four people died, one of them a woman who was shot and killed by police inside the Capitol. Three other people died after suffering “medical emergencies” related to the breach, said Robert Contee, chief of the city’s Metropolitan Police Department.

Police said 52 people were arrested as of Wednesday night, including 26 on the Capitol grounds. Fourteen police officers were injured, Contee said.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, said the breach “raises grave security concerns,″ adding that her committee will work with House and Senate leaders to review the police response — and its preparedness.

Lawmakers crouched under desks and donned gas masks while police futilely tried to barricade the building when people marched to the Capitol from a rally near the White House in support of President Donald Trump. Washington’s mayor instituted an evening curfew in an attempt to contain the violence.

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., a former police chief, said it was “painfully obvious” that Capitol police “were not prepared for today. I certainly thought that we would have had a stronger show of force, that there would have been steps taken in the very beginning to make sure that there was a designated area for the protesters in a safe distance from the Capitol.”

In an interview with MSNBC Wednesday night, Demings said it appeared police were woefully understaffed, adding that “it did not seem that they had a clear operational plan to really deal with” thousands of protesters who descended on the Capitol following Trump’s complaints of a “rigged election.”

The rioters were egged on by Trump, who has spent weeks falsely attacking the integrity of the election and had urged his supporters to come to Washington to protest Congress’ formal approval of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. The protests interrupted those proceedings for nearly seven hours.

The mob broke windows, entered both the Senate and House chambers and went into the offices of lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Demings said there were “a lot of unanswered questions and I’m damn determined to get answers to those questions about what went wrong today.”

A police spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment late Wednesday.

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., said she was outraged to see accounts on social media of a Capitol Police officer posing for a photo with a protester. “Would you take a selfie with someone who was robbing a bank?” she asked. “I can’t imagine if a couple of thousand of (Black Lives Matters) protesters had descended on the Capitol … that there would be 13 people arrested.”

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, suggested there could be leadership changes at the Capitol police.

“I think it’s pretty clear that there’s going to be a number of people who are going to be without employment very, very soon because this is an embarrassment both on behalf of the mob, and the president, and the insurrection, and the attempted coup, but also the lack of professional planning and dealing with what we knew was going to occur,” Ryan said.

Lifetime Windows & Doors
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez) 
              Members of the U.S. Secret Service Counter Assault Team walk through the Rotunda as they and other federal police forces responded as violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol today, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
            
              People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
            
              Members of the National Guard arrive to secure the area outside the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
            
              FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. The U.S. registered its highest deaths yet from the coronavirus on the same day as a mob attack on the nation’s capitol laid bare some of the same, deep political divisions that have hampered the battle against the pandemic. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
            
              Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., cleans up debris and trash strewn across the floor in the early morning hours of Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, after protesters stormed the Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
            (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) Protesters supporting U.S. President Donald Trump break into the U.S. Capitol 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.  Pro-Trump protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building during demonstrations in the nation's capital.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) Thousands of Donald Trump supporters gather outside the U.S. Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. A large group of protesters stormed the historic building, breaking windows and clashing with police. Trump supporters had gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) 
              Police hold off Trump supporters who tried to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
            Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Papers and gas masks are left behind after House of Representatives members left the floor of the House chamber as protesters try to break into the chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Police keep a watch on demonstrators who tried to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Members of congress run for cover as protesters try to enter the House Chamber during a joint session of Congress 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. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer as he appears on a screen during a rally on the National Mall on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters interact with Capitol Police inside the U.S. Capitol Building 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. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: 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. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Supporters of President Donald Trump surround the U.S. Capitol following a rally on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) 
              Trump supporters gather on the Washington Monument grounds in advance of a rally Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his baseless claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
            WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: President Donald Trump greets the crowd at the "Stop The Steal" Rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Supporters of President Donald Trump cheer as he appears on a screen during a rally on the National Mall on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Samuel Corum)

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Lawmakers vow to investigate police after Capitol breach