March 30, 2021: Two veteran US Capitol Police officers have filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump alleging the former president should be held legally accountable for the injuries the officers suffered protecting Congress in the January 6 insurrection.
The lawsuit by plaintiffs James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby in federal district court in Washington D.C. seeks unspecified amounts of compensatory and punitive damages against Trump for inciting the riot in which they and other officers were injured. The lawsuit also alleges that Trump aided and abetted the rioters and ratified the rioters’ conduct by praising the rioters even after it was clear that many officers had been injured in the assault on the Capitol.
Their complaint describes a pattern of conduct dating back to the 2016 presidential election in which Trump encouraged violence by his supporters. Among other events, the complaint cites:
- Trump’s refusal in the presidential debate in September 2020 to disavow right-wing extremist groups and his statement in the same debate, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.” (The Proud Boys group later played a central role in the January 6 insurrection.)
- Trump’s repeated assertions with no evidence that the election was being stolen from him.
- Trump’s encouragement of two “stop the steal” rallies in November and December 2020 in the nation’s capital during which police officers were injured trying to stop violent conduct by Trump supporters.
- Trump’s invitation to his followers to come to Washington on January 6 for a rally that he promised “will be wild.”
- Trump’s incitement of the riot with a one hour and 15-minute speech at the Ellipse near the White House on January 6 in which he said, among other things:
- “We will never concede, it doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore and that’s what this is all about. To use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal;”
- “When you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules;”
- “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong;”
- “And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore;”
- “And we’re going to the Capitol … But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help. We’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
Officers Blassingame and Hemby both describe a relentless assault by Trump supporters on the afternoon of January 6 that lasted for hours and left them physically and emotionally traumatized and in fear of their lives. Each started the day guarding the east front of the Capitol and then moved inside once the Capitol had been breached by rioters. Each was assaulted with fists and objects and chemical sprays along with violent and offensive words.
Officer Blassingame was inside the Crypt, below the rotunda, when a large group of insurrectionists pinned him against a stone column, injuring his spine and the back of his head. The rioters used their fists and various objects to strike his face, head, chest, and arms. He continues to suffer back pain and emotional trauma, including sleeplessness and depression.
In addition, Blassingame brings a claim of “intentional infliction of emotional distress” for being called the N-word by rioters so many times he lost count. (Complaint paragraphs 91 and 155.)
Officer Hemby was injured while trying to defend the steps to the rotunda entrance on the east front of the Capitol. He was pinned for a time against a large metal door trying to fend off the attackers. Hemby suffered a cut near his eye along with neck, back, and knee injuries, and emotional trauma including nightmares and hyper-vigilance.
Blassingame lives in Rockville MD and is a 17-year veteran of the US Capitol Police. Hemby lives in Waldorf MD and is an 11-year USCP veteran.
The two officers are represented by Patrick Malone & Associates, a D.C.-based personal injury law firm.
A day after the release of a Senate report detailing the widespread security failures in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, we spoke with one of the police officers on the scene that day. Officer James Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the Capitol Police who is involved in a civil lawsuit against former President Trump, joins Lisa Desjardins to discuss his experiences when a violent mob stormed the Capitol.
Patrick A. Malone
PATRICK MALONE & ASSOCIATES, P.C.
1310 L Street, N.W., Suite 800
Washington, D.C. 20005