Two Capitol Police officers are suing former President Donald Trump for allegedly inciting the Capitol riot and causing them physical and emotional injuries.
Officers James Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the Capitol Police, and Sidney Hemby, an 11-year veteran, allege that Trump “inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed, and aided and abetted” the mob that violently breached the Capitol building on January 6. The officers both say that they continue to suffer physical pain and emotional trauma from the attack nearly three months after it happened. The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $75,000 for each officer and unspecified punitive damages.
Blassingame says that he was slammed against a stone pillar by the unruly mob of Trump supporters, striking his spine and head and leaving him temporarily “unable to move.” He also says that the rioters repeatedly called him the N-word during the attack, with the complaint stating that he “lost count of the many times the racial slur was hurled at him.” Blassingame was left with injuries to his head and back after rioters allegedly punched him and used “weapons that ranged from flagpoles to stanchions and building directional signs, water bottles and other objects” to hit him on “what felt like every part of his body.”
“[Blassingame] continues to have pain in his back, but the severe emotional toll the January 6 insurrection has taken on Officer Blassingame continues to reveal itself,” the complaint states. “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. He experiences guilt of being unable to help his colleagues who were simultaneously being attacked; and of surviving where other colleagues did not.”
Hemby alleges that he was crushed against a door while trying to stop the mob from entering the building. He says that the pro-Trump rioters screamed “Fight for Trump” and “Stop the Steal” while ignoring his pleas for help, spraying him with chemicals and repeatedly striking him “with their fists and whatever they had in their hands.”
“As a result of the attack, Officer Hemby’s left hand and left knee became swollen and painful,” the suit says. “He was sprayed in the face and body with chemical sprays. His back and neck ached, and his skin burned. Officer Hemby is under the care or an orthopedic medical specialist and receives physical therapy two to three days per week for his neck and back… He continues to sleep poorly and feels hyper-aware and on high alert during his waking hours.”
The complaint claims that Trump is responsible for the injuries to the officers because those who took part in the storming of the Capitol “were spurred on by Trump’s conduct over many months in getting his followers to believe his false allegation that he was about to be forced out of the White House because of massive election fraud” allegedly perpetrated by then President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump repeatedly pushed evidence-free claims of massive election fraud beginning shortly after Biden’s victory. In addition to Trump’s behavior before the January 6 riot, the suit highlights his actions in the hours and days after the breach, when he continued to falsely claim that the election had been “stolen” from him. Biden’s win in the Electoral College, by a vote of 306 to 232, was certified by Congress hours after the Capitol riot. In the national popular vote, over 7 million more people voted for Biden than Trump.
One week after the breach of the Capitol building, Trump was impeached by the House for a historic second time for allegedly inciting the riot, which left five people dead and more than 100 injured. He was acquitted by the Senate weeks later. While a majority of senators agreed that Trump was guilty of inciting insurrection, the majority fell short of a two-thirds threshold required for conviction.