“I Was Slipping in People’s Blood”

Caroline Edwards, the first officer to be injured during the January 6 attack, was one of two live witnesses at Thursday’s hearing.

U.S. Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards testifies as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds its first public hearing.Andrew Harnik/AP

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On January 6, 2021, Caroline Edwards was one of five officers forming the US Capitol Police’s first line of defense against hundreds of advancing rioters. As the frenzied crowd pressed forward into the metal bike racks dividing them from the cops, the 5-foot-4 Edwards was thrust to the ground, sustaining a traumatic brain injury when her head collided with the concrete. 

Edwards, the first officer to be hurt during the riot, was one of two live witnesses that the January 6 committee called to testify during Thursday night’s hearing. At one point, the officer watched video footage of the moment she was injured. 

Even after suffering brain trauma, Edwards continued to beat back the mob with her fellow officers. During the fighting, Edwards testified, she was pepper sprayed beside officer Brian Sicknick, who suffered two strokes hours after the Capitol attack and died the next day. The Washington, DC, medical examiner concluded Sicknick died of natural causes but added that “all that transpired played a role in his condition.”

According to the January 6 committee, Edwards has been unable to resume her previous duties as a first responder because of her injuries. 

Edwards’ testimony underscored the brutality of what one congressional Republican sought to write off as a “tourist visit.”

“I was slipping in people’s blood,” she told the committee. “I was catching people as they fell, you know, it was carnage. It was chaos.”

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