A Metropolitan Police Department officer wielding a wooden flagpole like a medieval lance inside the U.S. Capitol tunnel on Jan. 6, 2021, later bragged to fellow officers that the long wooden dowel was “my best weapon,” newly released bodycam video shows.
Video recorded by Officer Michael Dowling’s bodycam shows him climbing onto a narrow ledge in the Lower West Terrace tunnel and attacking a woman in a white coat standing near the entrance.
As Dowling jabbed at the woman—including two contacts to the head—she hurried to get off the ledge and escape the tunnel.
“I’m trying!” she cried out.
Someone at the front of the tunnel shouted at her, “Get the [expletive] out of here!”
Dowling picked up the flagpole from the floor of the tunnel entrance at 3:19 p.m. and moved into the tunnel.
After dislodging the woman in white, Dowling jabbed at a number of men at the front line who faced inward toward the police. That drew the ire of protest leader Anthony Alexander Antonio of Wilmington, Delaware, who had been addressing the crowd with a bullhorn.
“Quit that [expletive],” Antonio shouted at Dowling. “Quit that [expletive].”
Two hours later, after the crowds were pushed from the Lower West Terrace, Dowling met up with MPD Officer Jeffrey Leslie.
“I lost my flagpole,” Dowling lamented. “That was my best weapon.”
“You did well with that, sir,” Leslie replied. When another officer approached, Leslie told him, “This guy’s the man with the flagpole.”
Dowling explained, “I started jabbing people with the flagpole.”
A fourth officer joined the conversation. “You got a few people with it?” he asked.
“Oh yeah,” Dowling replied.
“It snapped, and then they took it back,” Dowling said.
After that conversation, Dowling went back into the Capitol and spoke with another MPD officer at the top of a staircase.
“Listen, I would have never thought I’d have the occasion to hit a man with the American flag in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building,” the officer told Dowling. “And I got to today.”