“It was something like what I’d seen out of movies. I couldn’t believe my eyes,” she said of the doomed effort to defend the Capitol from an onrushing mob of Trump supporters. “There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up. I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood. I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage. It was chaos. I can’t even describe what I saw. Never in my wildest dreams that as a police officer I would find myself in the middle of a battle.”
Edwards, among the first witnesses to testify in the Jan. 6 committee’s public hearings, is one of approximately 150 officers injured that day. She suffered a concussion after being knocked to the ground by Trump supporters pushing against a bike rack that was being used as a barricade. She recounted what happened on Thursday. “I felt the bike rack fall on top of my head, and I was pushed backward and my foot caught the stair behind me,” she said. “And my chin hit the handrail and then at that point, I had blacked out. But the back of my head clipped the concrete stairs behind me.”
This is what Trump’s mob did:
“I felt the bike rack fall on top of my head, and I was pushed backward and my foot caught the stair behind me. And my chin hit the handrail and then at that point, I had blacked out. But the back of my head clipped the concrete stairs behind me.” pic.twitter.com/eGUnoFoeRk
— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) June 10, 2022
The Jan. 6 committee played a video of Edwards’ injury:
Cheney plays a clip of Officer Caroline Edwards being knocked unconscious when she was stampeded by insurrectionists pic.twitter.com/SnjbRZI8WA
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 10, 2022
Edwards suffered long-lasting symptoms from the injury, she told The New York Times, including vertigo, slowed speech, and fainting spells. She ended up returning to work, but taking a desk job with reduced hours due to her injuries. She is among many who have not fully healed from Jan. 6. Besides the physical injuries, emotional trauma continues to affect those who still work at the Capitol and those who have chosen to move on. There are also the four officers who committed suicide after the attack. Another, Brian Sicknick, suffered two strokes and died hours after Trump supporters assaulted him with a chemical irritant. Edwards, who was near Sicknick on the Capitol’s lower west terrace, was also hit with the spray.
“Those images, the smells, the yelling…the chaos that day was a war zone,” Edwards told MSNBC last fall during a segment on how the Capitol Police has brought on an emotional support dog as one of its efforts to address officers’ mental health. The police force is also offering peer counseling, a role that Edwards formally stepped into upon her return to work last May.
“I’m not combat trained,” Edwards added to the committee on Thursday. “That day it was just hours of hand-to-hand combat, hours of dealing with things that were way beyond what any law enforcement officer is trained for. I just remember that moment of stepping behind the line and seeing the absolute war zone that the west front had become.”