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Capitol officers sue Trump over 'physical and emotional injuries' from Jan. 6 attack

NBC News logo NBC News 3/31/2021 Rebecca Shabad
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WASHINGTON — Two Capitol Police officers are suing former President Donald Trump over “physical and emotional injuries” they suffered during the attack on the Capitol Jan. 6, which they say was incited by the former president.

Officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby accuse Trump of directing the assault and battery perpetrated by the rioters and aiding and abetting those actions.

The officers, who have been on the force for more than a decade, are each seeking at least $75,000 in damages. They are the first officers to sue in court over the attack.

Trump has not yet responded to the lawsuit. His defenders, including his defense team at his impeachment trial over the attack, argue that Trump did not incite the crowd at a rally before the assault to engage in destructive behavior.


In the 40-page complaint filed in D.C. federal court on Tuesday, lawyers for the officers say “the insurrectionist mob, which Trump had inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed, and aided and abetted, forced its way over and past the plaintiffs and their fellow officers, pursuing and attacking them inside and outside the United States Capitol.”

During the assault on the Capitol, one of the rioters screamed in Hemby’s face that he was “disrespecting the badge” and that the officers were “not patriots,” the lawsuit says.

“Officer Hemby was attacked relentlessly. He was bleeding from a cut located less than an inch from his eye. He had cuts and abrasions on his face and hands and his body was pinned against a large metal door, fending off attacks,” the complaint says.

Meanwhile, Blassingame was among eight or nine officers trying to fend off the mob that charged into the Crypt, the area inside the Capitol on the floor below the Rotunda.

“The insurrectionists struck Officer Blassingame in his face, head, chest, arms, and what felt like every part of his body," the lawsuit says. "Insurrectionists used their fists and had weapons that ranged from flagpoles to stanchions and building directional signs, water bottles and other objects he could not identify."

As a result of the attack, Hemby’s left hand and knee were swollen and painful and he was hit with chemical sprays, the lawsuit says. He is currently being treated by an orthopedic specialist and has to do physical therapy two to three days a week for his neck and back. The lawsuit says Hemby “continues to sleep poorly and feels hyper-aware and on high alert during his waking hours.”

Blassingame suffered injuries to his back and head that day and continues to have back pain, says the complaint, which suggests the emotional toll on the officer has been worse. He has suffered from depression, which he hasn’t been able to address, and “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,” it says.

About 140 officers from the Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police departments were injured during the Jan. 6 assault. Two men have been charged with assaulting officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries sustained in the attack. Two other Capitol Police officers died by suicide in the weeks following the riot.


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