Capitol rioter apologizes to police officer injured Jan. 6

Stephen Ayres, the Capitol rioter who testified at Tuesday’s Jan. 6 committee hearing, apologized afterward to a U.S. Capitol Police sergeant who was badly beaten during the insurrection. The officer, Aquilino Gonell, can no longer work because of lingering injuries.

Ayres, who last month pleaded guilty to charges related to his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, apologized to Gonell and other officers present for his role in the violence.

“I didn’t expect it,” Gonell told reporters of Ayres’ apology. “It is what it is. I’m not holding any grudges. I’m trying to live with my life … and learn how to live and cope with my new disabilities.”

Gonell blames former President Trump for ending his career, he told reporters. “He didn’t come to our aid on Jan. 6, and learning what we have learned from the Jan. 6 committee, he had a role in it,” Gonell said after Tuesday’s hearing. “He should’ve called off the mob. Instead, he egged them on.”

Gonell appeared before the House Select Committee’s first hearing on the Jan. 6 violence, where he shared his harrowing experience that day at the Capitol. He said he feared for his life and faces multiple surgeries from injuries to his shoulder, legs and feet and at least a year of rehabilitation. He spoke of not hugging his wife when he got home because his uniform was soaked in chemical irritants he had been sprayed with. He described lying in bed for hours in agony before putting on a fresh uniform and heading back to work. Gonell was informed in June that he would be unable to continue as a police officer due to his injuries.

“Unfortunately, that’s not the way I wanted to retire,” Gonell said.

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