WASHINGTON, July 27 (Reuters) - Four police officers on Tuesday told lawmakers they were beaten, taunted with racial insults, heard threats including "kill him with his own gun" and thought they might die as they struggled to defend the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 against a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters.
Often tearful, sometimes profane, the officers called the rioters "terrorists" engaged in an "attempted coup" during a 3-1/2 hour congressional hearing in which they also criticized Republican lawmakers who have sought to downplay the attack.
"I feel like I went to hell and back to protect the people in this room," said District of Columbia police officer Michael Fanone, referring to lawmakers. "The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful," Fanone added, slamming his hand onto the witness table.
It was a dramatic first hearing for a Democratic-led House of Representatives committee formed despite opposition by Trump's fellow Republicans to investigate the worst violence at the Capitol since the British invasion in the War of 1812.
Some Democrats have suggested Trump, who made an incendiary speech to supporters before the riot repeating false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud, be called to testify. The officers recounted how rioters fought on Trump's behalf, seeking to prevent Congress from formally certifying now-President Joe Biden's election victory.
"He himself helped create this monstrosity," Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell said of Trump as he described rioters wielding weapons including police shields, batons, sledgehammers, flag poles, Taser devices, chemical irritants, metal pipes, rocks, broken table legs and metal guard rails.
The officers urged lawmakers to determine what happened, including whether Trump or others helped instigate it.