Capitol riot report reveals police were told to hold back, weapons failed

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Capitol Police were instructed not to use their most aggressive tactics during the storming of the US Capitol on Jan. 6 despite advance warning about the potential for violence​, according to a scathing watchdog report that goes on to describe riot shields that shattered on impact, serious lapses in training and leadership, and weapons that were too old to fire. ​

The 104-page report by Michael Bolton, the inspector general of the Capitol Police, ​is highly critical of how the department prepared for and responded to the unrest carried out by hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters as lawmakers met during a joint session to certify the results in the 2020 presidential election.

The document said an intelligence assessment from the Capitol Police warned three days before the riot that Trump’s supporters could turn to violence in their efforts to overturn the election results and target Congress.

“Stop the Steal’s propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike,” the report says, according to the New York Times.

But leadership passed on using National Guard troops to bolster the police presence and instructed the agency’s Civil Disturbance Unit to hold back on using its most potent crowd-control ​weapons like stun guns.

The report quotes an Army official telling then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund that “we don’t like the optics of the National Guard standing in a line at the Capitol” even after the unruly crowd had broken down doors and shattered windows to enter the federal building.

​Law enforcement agents were quickly overwhelmed by the crowd, because of serious failures in training and equipment.

“When the crowd became unruly, the C.D.U. platoon attempted to access the bus to distribute the shields but were unable because the door was locked.” It “was consequently required to respond to the crowd without the protection of their riot shields,” the report says, according to the Times.​

The report found that some of the equipment was more than 20 years old and had never been replaced, tear gas weapons that could have been used to repel the crowd​ were so old that agents refused to fire them, and riot shields that had been improperly stored shattered as officers fought with the mob. 

Other weapons that could have been used to control the crowd were never readied before Jan. 6 — because of lapses in intelligence that failed to uncover the plot even though the rioters planned the event openly online.

And the warnings that had been sent by various agencies were mishandled.

In some cases, “less lethal” weapons that are not designed to kill but to disperse crowds were not deployed on “orders from leadership.”

Bolton’s report also found that supplies intended for the officers on the front lines of the riot couldn’t get through the unruly crowd. 

Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the violence and more than 140 law enforcement officers were wounded. 

The report, which Bolton hasn’t made public, was obtained by several news sites.

The revelations in the report come the day before Bolton is scheduled to appear before the House Administration Committee to testify about the events surrounding Jan. 6.

It also comes as the Capitol Police force mourns the death of Officer William “Billy” Evans, who was killed earlier this month after being struck by a car near a barricade at the Capitol, and Officer Brian Sicknick, who died a day after the riot from wounds sustained battling the rioters.

With Post wires

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