Just minutes after misfired tear gas canisters drove police back into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the retreating officers left unsecured the sets of double doors in the Lower West Terrace tunnel, giving protesters easy access to the entrance and sparking several hours of brutal violence, videos reveal.
Cell phone video entered into evidence in a recent Jan. 6 criminal case shows that protesters walked right through the sets of double doors at the back of the tunnel and began fighting against the police for access to the rest of the Capitol.
For months, questions have been raised by defense attorneys and case observers whether the doors at the tunnel entrance were locked and secure. Prosecutors contended in court filings that the doors were locked when the last officers retreated into the Capitol at about 2:40 p.m.
However, two videos that were entered into evidence by the U.S. Department of Justice in Jan. 6 criminal cases show that neither set of doors was secured. All protesters had to do was pull on the outer handles to gain entry.
The police retreat into the Capitol became necessary when police lines on the ground level of the west front of the Capitol collapsed in two key areas starting at about 2:25 p.m.
The first break in the line came after Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Thau told MPD Officer Rich Khoury to fire a gas projectile.
“Hey Rich, put it up in the [expletive] scaffolding,” Thau said, according to his bodycam. “Fire it up in the air, Rich, over there. Just [expletive] shoot!”
Khoury’s shot misfired and the gas round landed right in the middle of a gathering of MPD supervisors. The smoking payload sent everyone scrambling for fresh air and left a gap in the police line.
‘We Can’t Stop Them’
Thau retreated up the stairs under the scaffolding, where he spoke briefly with MPD’s commander, Jason Bagshaw.
“We’re going to have to make a tactical disadvantaged move out here, or we’re going to get people seriously [expletive] hurt man,” Thau said.