Defense Lawyers Tour Capitol Riot Crime Scene
Public tours of the U.S. Capitol have been suspended during the coronavirus pandemic, but that didn’t stop one group from getting it’s own personalized guided tour of the building: defense lawyers.
More than 400 people have been arrested for their role in the deadly Jan. 6 insurrectionist riot at the U.S. Capitol. The FBI says it expects to track down and arrest another 100 or so rioters. On Monday Capitol Police conducted the first of five tours for attorneys representing some of those charged with assault, destruction of federal property and other crimes related to their actions in battling police and marauding through the Capitol.
A New York Times reporter was able to see and hear much of Monday’s tour. The attorneys are permitted to make notes of what they see and hear but can take pictures in only a few locations. They are not allowed to ask questions.
Monday’s tour was led by Capitol Police Inspector Thomas Loyd. “This is the speaker’s lobby,” said Loyd, his voice rising so those in the back could hear. “This is where the shooting took place.” The two dozen defense lawyers in front of him stopped chatting, looked around the carpeted corridor outside the House chamber and started taking notes.
The crime scene tour included the speaker’s lobby where Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed as she tried to storm the House chamber. There’s the House chamber itself, where lawmakers donned gas masks and barricaded themselves inside. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite, which rioters vandalized and where they posed for pictures, also is part of the tour. Attorneys also were shown a rounded hall known as the crypt, one floor beneath the Rotunda, that was the site of a long struggle between the mob and the police.
“There was a big battle in here,” Loyd said, waving the lawyers toward a staircase to the crypt. “You can take pictures.”
Loyd led them to the spot where a police officer was crushed in a door and where rioters climbed exterior walls to break in. He pointed out which windows were broken and which doors breached. He showed his tour group where Senators Chuck Schumer and Mitt Romney had fled, narrowly avoiding coming face to face with members of the mob.
One of the more dramatic moments of Loyd’s tour was his account of the heroism of Officer Eugene Goodman, who was credited with saving the lives of members of Congress on Jan. 6.
“Officer Goodman leads them up the stairs, he pauses, and he continues to lead them on,” the inspector said as the group stood near the Senate chamber. “This is where Officer Goodman makes sure everyone, including the vice president, is safe.”