Eugene Goodman describes how Jan. 6 rioters pursued him through Capitol

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U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman testified in court for the first time Monday about leading rioters away from fleeing senators during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, describing how he ran up a staircase after a tense confrontation that began with a member of the mob who was carrying a Confederate battle flag.

Goodman, whose actions inside the building that day were captured on a video that went viral, said the man jabbed at him with the butt end of the flag and yelled: “I’m not leaving. Where are the members at? Where are they counting the votes?”

That man — 52-year-old Kevin Seefried — was quickly joined by a crowd that pursued Goodman up the stairs and away from a hallway that led to a Senate entrance used by Republicans, staffers and the ceremonial offices of Vice President Mike Pence.

Goodman’s testimony came in the federal criminal trial in Washington of Seefried and his son, Hunter Seefried, 22, of Laurel, Del., who are accused of being among the first 15 people to breach the building. Each has pleaded not guilty, though at the trial, attorneys for both men said they would not contest that they were guilty of misdemeanor trespassing or picketing and parading on restricted Capitol grounds. Instead, they have sought to argue that they did not intend to obstruct Congress’s work — which is the basis for a more serious felony charge against them.

In sometimes graphic terms, Goodman described trying to hold police lines outside the Capitol without any protective gear, as rioters hurled objects in his direction. He said he beat back rioters with his baton, and vomited after being hit with pepper spray and D.C. police-fired tear gas that had blown back into officers.

When D.C. police arrived in riot gear, Goodman testified that he went to an aid station set up by the Office of the Attending Physician in the building’s crypt, which is beneath the Rotunda. But he said he soon had to race two floors up as the police radio went “haywire” with reports of fighting around the building and a premature — at that point — alarm that the Rotunda had been breached.

“I could see officers in riot gear with their backs pressed against the doors, and just a mob of people pressing up against them,” Goodman said of the view outside the Rotunda doors. Of the Capitol’s west front, the officer said, “It looked like a medieval clash between two opposing forces … between police and protesters.”

Goodman’s appearance at a bench trial before U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden came just four days after U.S. Capitol Police colleague Caroline Edwards described similarly harrowing scenes as she testified before the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6.

In prime-time televised remarks, Edwards called the building grounds that day a “war zone.” She described “slipping on people’s blood” and being blinded by bear spray as she stood next to an officer, Brian D. Sicknick, who later suffered strokes and died.

Goodman first spoke publicly about the attack in January, saying during a podcast hosted by a co-worker who was at the Capitol during the siege that he relied on his military training and experience in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division — when “nothing ever went to plan, ever.”

“You never know. It could have easily been a bloodbath so kudos to everybody there that showed a measure of restraint with regards to deadly force, ’cause it could have been baaad. Really, really bad,” Goodman said in an interview posted Jan. 24 on the “3 Brothers No Sense” podcast, which was co-hosted by Byron “Buff” Evans, a friend and co-worker of Goodman’s.

The Seefrieds turned themselves in to law enforcement on Jan. 12, 2021. Kevin Seefried has admitted carrying a large Confederate flag to the Capitol, saying he usually keeps it outside his home, according to an FBI complaint.

In briefing papers, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brittany L. Reed said police witnesses would say that the Seefrieds were part of the first group of rioters who entered “intent on getting to the Members of Congress.” The group included two highly visible figures who led the charge and have since pleaded guilty: Douglas Jensen, who wore a black T-shirt emblazoned with an eagle and logo of the QAnon extremist group, and “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley, who carried a spear and was wearing face paint and a fur headdress with horns.

Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman faced the mob that breached the U.S. Capitol on his own on Jan. 6. (Video: Igor Bobic/HuffPost via Storyful)

Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman speaks publicly for first time since Jan. 6 insurrection

“Where are they meeting?” members of the crowd shouted through a bullhorn as they chased Goodman up a marble staircase, according to Goodman and video evidence entered by prosecutors. Goodman led the group to the Ohio Clock Corridor, a mosaic-tiled area outside doors leading to the Senate chamber, where he confirmed Monday that he knew officers were positioned to provide backup.

Elizabeth Mullin, one of Kevin Seefried’s two assistant federal defenders, said that while her client might have been in a restricted area, he “lacked the requisite intent” to obstruct Congress’s work.

“While it was a mistake, a mistake Kevin Seefried has regretted ever since, he did not go in because Congress was meeting or counting the votes. He did not go in to stop anyone from certifying the election,” Mullin said.

Hunter Seefried’s attorney Edson Bostic said his client “had no harsh words, didn’t threaten anyone,” and was not considered “a person of concern” by police.

Meet Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman, captured in viral video facing down a mob in the Capitol

Hunter acted “stupidly, perhaps — in terms of the excitement of a young man — but not corruptly with any intent to block the certification of the vote,” Bostic said, “nor would evidence show he aided or abetted the actions of any others.”

Hunter Seefried, who normally did not follow politics, was “not even sure that certification of the electoral votes [was] being held in the Capitol building on that day,” Bostic said.

Under cross-examination by Assistant Federal Defender Eugene Ohm, Goodman conceded that he did not tell the FBI or say previously that he heard Kevin Seefried ask where lawmakers were or where vote counting was going on. Goodman had said in a victim impact statement provided for use by prosecutors in Jan. 6 cases that after his lone confrontation with Seefried, he “had no idea what their intention was, and I retreated to the top of the stairs.”

But Goodman explained in response to questions from the prosecutor that he was not referring to why rioters entered the building, but only what their intention was “with regard to me, specifically.” Goodman did acknowledge under questioning by the judge that Seefried might not have asked where vote counting was happening.

He testified that Kevin Seefried acted aggressively toward him, jabbed the flagpole at him, and that he was concerned for his safety, in part because he recognized the teardrop tattoo under Seefried’s eye as one popular among former prison inmates.

Goodman said a person in the Seefrieds’ group said, ’You’ll have to shoot me to stop me from going inside,” and another said rioters were “ready for war” and asked if Goodman was. Goodman said he did not hear either of the Seefrieds join a couple members of the group who disagreed with the latter man and tried to “calm him down.”

Both Seefrieds ignored his commands to leave the building, Goodman said. Of Hunter Seefried, in particular, Goodman said: “I told him to leave. ‘You need to get out of the building.’ And he says ‘No.’ … The whole time he just had this smirkish look on his face, like a ‘we won’ kind of face.”

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