Capitol Police officer who suffered ‘traumatic brain injury’ sues Trump for inciting riot

USCP officer endured an ‘odyssey’ of violence, covered in blood and chemical spray, with lingering trauma that required extensive therapy, complaint alleges

Alex Woodward
New York
Friday 07 January 2022 19:20
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A US Capitol Police officer filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump exactly one year after a mob of his supporters breached the halls of Congress and injured dozens of law enforcement officers

In a filing in US District Court in Washington DC on 6 January, an attorney for Briana Kirkland claims that she “endured an odyssey” of violence that began among 20 officers on the Senate side of the Capitol building and ended “covered in chemical spray” and blood, “with a traumatic brain injury that would cost her a year of her personal and professional life, and physical and personal injuries that will be with her indefinitely.”

The filing follows two similar lawsuits from three DC-area police officers this week, alleging that the former president waged a months-long campaign to undermine the outcome of the 2020 presidential election with a baseless “stolen election” narrative that “inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed, and aided and abetted” a crowd of his supporters to the Capitol.

Officer Kirkland, who has served with the Capitol force for five years, has accused Mr Trump of several offences and seeks at least $75,000 in damages as well as a jury trial.

The lawsuit also comes as President Joe Biden forcefully condemned Mr Trump – referenced as “the former president” 16 times during remarks on Thursday – for amplifying conspiracy theories and fuelling the attack with spurious claims of voter fraud.

While Mr Trump addressed a rally crowd, Officer Kirkland “was pushed and shoved by rioters who outnumbered her and the other officers” by an estimated ratio of 450 to one, according to the lawsuit, while she was equipped with “no shield and no idea whether or how she would be able to get any additional protective gear.”

“All she could do was try to stand her ground as she gripped her baton in her hand with all her strength,” the lawsuit says.

As she faced rioters who sought to overrun bike rack barriers, she made eye contact with a man with “a murderous look in his eyes”.

After the man in the crowd grabbed her, she thought she might die, according to the complaint.

“This is going to be it,” she said to herself, according to the lawsuit.

As she regained her footing, an “enormous Trump flag encased in a metal frame that had wheels and a trailer hitch to it was being hurled at her and the officers beside her,” according to the lawsuit. Later, as she made her way inside the building, she was among emergency personnel assisting Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot by an officer as she breached the House chamber.

As she made her way through the building, surrounded by a mob chanting “kill them” and “beat those officers up”, she noticed her feet were “wet with blood, bear spray” and “fire extinguisher chemicals” hurled at her and other officers.

The next morning, her vision went “completely black” and “she began seeing fireworks” when her eyes were open, according to the complaint. She was diagnosed with a concussion that day.

Since the attack, the impacts from her concussion have “worsened and persisted”, and she has required “extensive medical care from among other specialists, a neurologist and physiatrist,” along with physical, occupational, speech and visual therapies, the lawsuit says.

The latest lawsuits follow another suit from seven other officers against the former president and several of his allies and extremist groups, accusing them of plotting to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power as members of Congress convened to certify the results of the 2020 election.

The Independent has requested comment from a spokesperson for Mr Trump.

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