Two Capitol Police officers sue Trump over Jan. 6 insurrection

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The Guardian

Police officers sue Donald Trump for injuries resulting from Capitol riot

Lawsuit seeks damages for ‘physical and emotional injuries caused by Trump’s wrongful conduct inciting a riot’ on 6 January Donald Trump in New York City on 9 March 2021. Photograph: Carlo Allegri/Reuters Two US Capitol Police officers have filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump, accusing him of inciting the deadly 6 January insurrection and saying he was responsible for physical and emotional injuries they suffered as a result. James Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the force, and Sidney Hemby, an 11-year veteran, filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in US district court for the District of Columbia seeking damages of at least $75,000 each. “This is a complaint for damages by US Capitol Police officers for physical and emotional injuries caused by the defendant Donald Trump’s wrongful conduct inciting a riot on January 6, 2021, by his followers trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election,” the lawsuit said. Trump has denied responsibility for the rioting, which left five people dead, including a police officer. His office did not immediately return a call for comment on the lawsuit. Before the January insurrection occurred, Trump encouraged his supporters to “fight like hell” and march to the US Capitol building during a rally in Washington held on the same day. The former president was impeached, for a historic second time in his presidency, over his incitement of the insurrection – but was acquitted by the Senate in a 57 to 43 vote. The lawsuit cites the former Republican president’s conduct before and beyond the November presidential election, which Joe Biden won, including comments in speeches, on Twitter and during presidential debates. It said Trump stoked violence throughout the 2020 presidential campaign and escalated his false assertion that the election was rigged after the election was called for Biden. “During his 2016 campaign, and throughout his presidency, Trump had threatened violence towards his opponents, encouraged his followers to commit acts of violence, and condoned acts of violence by his followers, including white supremacists and far rightwing hate groups,” it said. The lawsuit also cited Trump’s encouragement to supporters to come to the Capitol on 6 January and so-called “Stop The Steal” campaign in the months after the election, including a tweet on 19 December: “Big protest on DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild.“ The lawsuit states: “Trump’s December 19th tweet about the January 6th rally was taken by many of his supporters as a literal call to arms.” Both officers suffered physical injuries and emotional injuries during the insurrection, according to the complaint. Hemby suffered neck and back injuries and was sprayed with chemicals, and remains in physical therapy, according to the complaint. Blassingame also suffered head and back injuries during the attack and has since experienced depression. “He is haunted by the memory of being attacked, and of the sensory impacts – the sights, sounds, smells and even tastes of the attack remain close to the surface,” the complaint states. “He experiences guilt of being unable to help his colleagues who were simultaneously being attacked; and of surviving where other colleagues did not.” The lawsuit follows other civil lawsuits filed by a handful of Democrats. Eric Swalwell, Democratic congressman and a former impeachment manager in Trump’s second trial, sued over Trump’s conduct during the insurrection. Swalwell’s lawsuit also targets the former president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and his son, Donald Trump Jr, as well as extremist groups associated with the riot, alleging violations of the anti-terrorism act. The former president and members of his circle have also been sued by the Democrat Bennie Thompson over alleged violations of a post-civil war statute designed against white supremacist violence by the Ku Klux Klan. The suit is being backed by the civil rights advocacy group the NAACP.