“That’s Probably the Closest I Ever Came In My Career to Losing My Life” : Officer Michael Fanone Condemns MAGA Extremism and Political Violence Ahead of January 6th Anniversary
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Courage for America Council Member and former Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone spoke with Susan Arbetter of Spectrum NY1 to commemorate the third anniversary of the January 6th attack and highlight the danger of political violence and the importance of protecting democracy. Below is a transcript of the interview:
Susan Arbetter: Now retired, Michael Fanone was hurt during the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, suffering a heart attack as well as a traumatic brain injury as a result of the violence. And he joins us tonight to speak out about rising political violence, and it’s a pleasure to have you here. And I’m so sorry about what happened to you.
Officer Micahel Fanone: Thank you.
Arbetter: So you were a DC police officer. You’re now retired.
Fanone: Yes ma’am.
Arbetter: Tell us what happened on January 6th. How did you end up at the Capitol?
Fanone: So January 6, 2021, like you said, I was a DC police officer. I had been for almost 20 years prior to that. And I was assigned to a small special mission unit that focused primarily on violent crime and narcotics trafficking. That day our office was scheduled to do a narcotics buy as part of an investigation that we’re working on, but like many other officers assigned to the DC police department, I heard the distress calls coming out from fellow officers who had responded to assist the U.S. Capitol Police.
Arbetter: What time was this?
Fanone: Well, the distress calls, I believe started coming out shortly after 1:00pm when there was the initial breach. I’d heard reports from other officers who were on duty that morning and monitoring the rally itself, which was at the Ellipse and there were reports of individuals in the crowd who were armed. There were arrests for individuals who had brought firearms into the District of Columbia, and then at some point, I remember getting a phone call from my partner, Jimmy Albright, who told me that a large group had broken off from the rally and was headed towards the Capitol.
B-Roll from Officer Fanone’s January 6, 2021 body camera
Arbetter: I just want to briefly interrupt you by saying that the footage that we are watching right now, I believe comes from your body camera that day.
Fanone: This footage here, yes, this is my body worn camera footage. Like I said, I did respond to the Capitol. It was the first time in probably more than a decade that I put on a uniform.
Arbetter: You went to help your fellow officers.
Fanone: Yes, ma’am. I heard the distress calls coming out from fellow cops and I went there to help cops. At one point I made my way to the Lower West Terrace Tunnel, which is located on the west front of the Capitol. It’s where the President Elect walks out to the inaugural stage to take the oath of office and there, alongside of about 40 other DC police officers, I fought to defend that entranceway from an onslaught of violent attackers.
End of B-Roll
Arbetter: And you were attacked.
Fanone: I was, I was pulled from the police line by an individual. His name is Albuquerque Head and he’s from Tennessee. He was later arrested, and pled guilty to assaulting me. He grabbed me by the neck and pulled me away from the other officers out into the crowd. If you listen to the audio on the body worn camera, he’s the one that shouts out “I got one”.
Arbetter: Meaning you?
Fanone: Correct, meaning me. After that I was beaten. I had my police badge and radio stripped from my vest. And at one point another individual, Daniel Rodriguez from the state of California, struck me multiple times with a taser device that he acquired at the rally and electrocuted me.
Arbetter: Leading to a heart attack?
Fanone: Correct. Like you said earlier, I suffered a heart attack and traumatic brain injury as a result of the injuries I sustained.
Arbetter: Did you think you’re gonna die?
Fanone: I was very concerned about being killed that day. Yes, I did. That’s probably the closest I ever came in my career to losing my life.
Arbetter: So what’s so interesting about this story and tragic is that for a long time, you were a Trump supporter.
Fanone: I was, I voted for Donald Trump in 2016.
Arbetter: After January 6th, you were no longer a Trump supporter.
Fanone: I’m here to tell you, and you don’t have to believe me, just watch my body worn camera footage, January 6th was violent. It involved Trump supporters. It was fueled by the former president’s lies, and it put a lot of police officers in the hospital.
Arbetter: Your prognosis is good. You have recovered from your heart attack and your traumatic brain injury?
Fanone: Yes, ma’am.
Arbetter: So what’s next for Michael Fanone?
Fanone: I don’t know. I mean, right now, I’m just focused on defeating MAGA and Donald Trump and ensuring that democracy continues for my children.
Arbetter: If Donald Trump is taken off the ballot, for whatever reason, you know, RICO, sedition, violation of the Espionage Act, do you think there’s going to be an uprising or another insurrection?
Fanone: I would bet that there would be continued acts of violence to be honest with you, I think that there’ll be acts of violence whether or not Donald Trump is, you know, on the ballot or whether or not he’s elected. That being said, I don’t think that we can be afraid of those Americans who would choose to commit crimes because of their political ideology. We deal with it the same way that we dealt with those that attacked the Capitol on January 6th, we pursue prosecution. And if the evidence is there, we get a conviction.
Arbetter: Well, thank you for joining us. We’ve been speaking with retired police officer Michael Fanone. He was hurt during the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, a brain injury, heart attack. He’s recovered, and he joins us now to talk about the importance of democracy and what happened. I appreciate your time.
To view the full interview, click HERE.