Capitol Police Captain Carneysha Mendoza testified before the Senate Tuesday about her harrowing experience in the U.S. Capitol on January 6, especially what she witnessed in the rotunda.
The 19-year veteran of the force, who served as an active duty soldier in the Army before that – including serving at the Pentagon on 9/11 – described being hit with ‘military-grade’ CS gas and seeing officers being beaten with objects.
‘I received chemical burns to my face that still have not healed to this day,’ she told members of the Senate Rules and Homeland Security committee.
Capitol Police Captain Carneysha Mendoza testified that she still has chemical burns on her face from her experiencing fighting against rioters in the Capitol rotunda during the January 6 insurrection
Mendoza told a joint Senate committee Tuesday about being in the rotunda on January 6, including that officers were exposed to ‘military-grade’ CS gas. She also reported that officers were being beaten and said she almost had her arm broken
Tuesday marked the first Capitol Hill hearing on the January 6 insurrection.
Mendoza said she expected January 6 to similar to what she witnessed on November 14, during the Million MAGA March, when she spent the day separating groups like the Proud Boys from other groups.
‘I literally woke up the next day, unable to move, due to the pain,’ she said.
Mendoza testified that on January 6, she was planning to go into work at 3 p.m.
‘It was approximately 1:30 in the afternoon, I was home eating with my 10-year-old, spending time with him before what I knew would be a long day, when a fellow captain contacted me and told me things were bad and that I needed to respond then,’ she said. ‘I literally dropped everything to respond to work that day early.’
A dispatcher told the officer that pipe bombs had been left at both the Democratic and Republican National Committees, and overall there were six active scenes.
Mendoza said she headed to the DNC first, due to proximity, but bypassed the office complex when she heard backup was needed at the Capitol Building.
The officer told the Senate that she entered the Capitol through a lower level door and saw a crowd of 200 rioters in front of her. By the time she turned around to find another entry point, a crowd had grown outside.
She found a line of Capitol Police officers and joined them.
‘At some point my right arm got wedged between rioters and the railing along a wall, a [Civil Disturbance Unit] sergeant pulled my arm and had he not I’m certain it would have been broken,’ she recalled.
From there, Mendoza headed to the rotunda.
‘Where I noticed a heavy smoke-like residue and smelled what I believed to be military-grade CS gas, a familiar smell.It was mixed with fire extinguisher spray deployed by rioters,’ she recalled. ‘The rioters continued to deploy CS into the rotunda. Officers received a lot of gas exposure, which is worse inside the building than outside because there’s nowhere for it to go.’
Officers, she said, were being knocked to the ground and hit by various objects by the rioters.’I was unable to determine exactly what those objects were,’ she said.
‘After a couple of hours officers cleared the rotunda but had to physically hold the door closed because it had been broken by the rioters,’ she said. ‘Officers begged me for relief because they were unsure how long they could physically hold the door closed with the crowd continually banging on the outide of the door, attempting to gain reentry.’
She said they found furniture and other objects to eventually keep the doors closed.
‘I know some said the battle lasted three hours, but according to my FitBit, I was in the exercise zone for four hours and nine minutes and many officers were in the fight even before I arrived,’ she noted.
Mendoza also told the lawmakers that ‘into the very early morning hours of my birthday, January 8,’ she was with the family members of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries sustained during the insurrection.
‘This was by far the worst of the worst,’ Mendoza said. ‘We could have had 10 times the amount of people working with us and I still believe the battle would have been just as devastating.’
‘As an American, and as an Army veteran, it’s sad to see us attack by our fellow citizens. I’m sad to see the unnecessary loss of life. I’m sad to see the impact has had on Capitol Police officers. And I’m sad to see the impact this has had on our agency and our country,’ she also testified.