Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, who was seriously injured battling supporters of former President Donald Trump during last year’s insurrection, said Thursday that the same Republican legislators he protected that day “pretend not to see me” now.
Gonell has attended each day of testimony presented by the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021. At the hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said that Gonell’s injuries were so serious that he could no longer continue to serve on the force.
“For some people, that day came and went, and for me, to this day, I’m still dealing with those ramifications,” Gonell said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “You know, you try to adapt to your new normal, but it’s hard.”
“When you have multiple number of rioters attacking you, taking turns in beating you up. And then you have a lot of the people who we protected on that day downplaying what happened,” Gonell added. “Sometimes I run into them in the hallway and then they pretend not to see me. They avoid me or bolt to the right or to the left or pretend to be doing something else.”
Gonell said the only Republicans who acknowledge him are Rep. Adam Kinzinger (D-Ill.) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the two GOP members of the Jan. 6 panel. However, he insisted he doesn’t “hold any grudges.”
“You know, it is disheartening,” Gonell said. “I’m not saying that I need that from them, but that shows a lot from the people who claim that they support the police and back the blue and are pro-law and order.”
One of the rioters, Stephen Ayres, testified Tuesday that he no longer believes Trump’s lies about a rigged election. Afterward he approached three police officers in the room to apologize.
“I didn’t expect it,” Gonell told reporters afterward. “It is what it is. I’m not holding any grudges. I’m trying to live with my life … and learn how to live and cope with my new disabilities.”
Gonell wrote an op ed in The New York Times last Sunday, saying that he was “betrayed” by Trump and that he should never again be allowed in the Oval Office.
“Although I experienced firsthand the brutal onslaught of the insurrectionists, I was shocked to hear [witness] Ms. [Cassidy] Hutchinson explain the extent to which former President Donald Trump incited the people who almost killed me,” Gonell wrote in the op-ed.
“The enabling of Mr. Trump needs to stop now,” Gonell wrote. “He should not only be barred from running for any other government office; he should never be allowed near the White House again. I believe he betrayed his oath to defend the Constitution, and it was to the detriment of me, my colleagues and all Americans, whom he was supposed to protect.”