Two Capitol Police officers are suing Donald Trump for inciting the January 6 riots that left dozens of their fellow officers injured and one dead.
James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby said they suffered ‘physical and emotional injuries’ in the violent ‘Stop The Steal’ insurrection which they said was spurred on by the former president.
Their suit filed in federal court in Washington on Tuesday said: ‘The insurrectionists were spurred on by Trump’s conduct over many months in getting his followers to believe his false allegation that he was about to be forced out of the White House because of massive election fraud.
‘The insurrectionist mob, which Trump had inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed, and aided and abetted, forced its way over and past the plaintiffs and their fellow officers, pursuing and attacking them.’
Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the Capitol police force, said he incurred injuries to his head and back and suffers emotionally from the event.
The African-American officer said he was also subjected to racist attacks during the assault on Congress from the Trump supporters.
Hemby, an 11-year officer, suffered hand and knee injuries after being crushed against Capitol building doors, and was sprayed in his face and on his body by chemical sprays in the attack.
‘Officer Hemby normally has a calm demeanor but has struggled to manage the emotional fallout from being relentlessly attacked,’ the suit says.
The lawsuit compiles numerous instances in which it says Trump encouraged the insurrection.
It accuses Trump of directing and abetting assault and battery and emotional distress, incitement to riot, and violating public safety statutes.
The officers asked the court for compensatory damages of a minimum of $75,000 each and an unstated amount in punitive damages.
The lawsuit added that Blassingame ‘is haunted by the memory of being attacked, and of the sensory impacts – the sights, sounds, smells and even tastes of the attack remain close to the surface’.
It added: ‘He experiences guilt of being unable to help his colleagues who were simultaneously being attacked; and of surviving where other colleagues did not.’
They claimed the mob was spurred on by calls by Trump to march on the Capitol to stop Joe Biden being certified as president.
The riots were carried out by fervent Trump supporters trying to overturn the results of November’s election which the then president had falsely claimed was rigged.
In February, an impeachment trial found Trump not guilty of inciting the violent scenes during his final weeks in office.
He was acquitted after the Senate voted 57–43 for conviction, falling ten votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority.
Trump is already fighting two lawsuits filed by lawmakers over his role in the January riots.
Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Representative who serves as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, sued Trump over allegedly inciting the violence.
The suit was filed in conjunction with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and claimed that Trump prevented Congress ‘by the use of force, intimidation, and threat’ from carrying out its constitutional duties.
The case also names as defendants the Republican former president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and groups including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, extremist organizations that had members charged by the Justice Department with taking part in the siege.
The lawsuit cited the 1871 Third Enforcement Act which was passed in response to the Ku Klux Klan and prohibits violence or intimidation meant to prevent Congress or other federal officials from carrying out their constitutional duties.
The second lawmaker to sue Trump over the riots was Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the House’s impeachment managers.
Swalwell’s court filing points to the 1985 revisions to the KKK law, which says that it is a violation when two or more persons conspire to ‘prevent by force, intimidation, or threat, any person from accepting or holding any office, trust or place of confidence in the U.S.’
The law also says it’s illegal to injure a person on account of them discharging their duties for office.
Other counts listed in the lawsuit include negligence, inciting a riot and inflicting emotional distress.
Presidents are historically afforded broad immunity from lawsuits for actions they take in their role as commander in chief.
But the lawsuit, like the one by Thompson, was brought against Trump in his personal, not official, capacity. AFP