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Capitol Officer Who Thwarted Mob 'Was a Hero Long Before'

Bipartisan legislation in the works to award Congressional Gold Medal to Eugene Goodman
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2021 11:11 AM CST

(Newser) – Amid disturbing new revelations and a growing list of individuals under arrest in the wake of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, there's been a more positive development. NBC News reports a bipartisan bill is now in play to award the Congressional Gold Medal, that body's highest civilian honor, to Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who apparently used himself as a decoy to lure the mob inside the Capitol away from lawmakers, possibly saving lives. The legislation from Democratic Reps. Charlie Crist and Emanuel Cleaver, as well as GOP Rep. Nancy Mace, lauds Goodman for "his bravery and quick thinking during last week's insurrection." More on Goodman from around the internet:

  • The video: CBS News shows clips from Goodman's encounter with the rioters, shot by HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic, in which the officer can be seen running up a set of stairs as the mob follows him. When he gets to the top of the stairs, he glances to the left, where he sees an open, unguarded door to the Senate chamber. And so, after gently pushing one of the rioters, Goodman leads them to the right, away from the chamber. He eventually turns a corner where other police officers are there to back him up.
  • From Crist: "I shudder to think what might have happened had it not been for Officer Goodman's fast thinking and commitment to his duty and his country."

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  • 'Meet Eugene Goodman': The Washington Post has more on Goodman, including remarks from those who know him and say he's always a calm force amid storms. "I've always said, if bullets start ripping through, I'm finding Goodman," said a friend. "He's been in hostile firefights, so he knows how to keep his head."
  • Longtime service: "Eugene was a hero long before" Jan. 6, notes WRAL. The 40-year-old was in the Army from 2002 to 2006, and he served for one year in Iraq. He earned a Combat Infantry Badge, meaning he saw ground combat. A top official from Fort Bragg tells WRAL that "Goodman's time as a soldier prepared him for this moment." Col. Joe Buccino says that "we're proud of him," and that "if he ever comes back to Fort Bragg ... he'll get a king's welcome."
  • More from the XVIII Airborne Corps: "Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman is rightfully being hailed as a hero after singlehandedly holding back rioters from entering the Senate chambers last week," the division posted Wednesday in a tweet that has since gone viral. "We celebrate his valor."
  • Mum's the word: Despite the publicity swirling around his actions, Goodman himself is staying tight-lipped, and he's apparently asking those around him to as well. Per the AP, the officer isn't taking calls from reporters or speaking out on social media, and "he's asked the force's union, bosses, family, and friends to help him maintain his privacy and not publicly discuss the events of Jan. 6."
  • Rare statement: Another friend, a fellow officer, did tell the Post that Goodman has said "he'd do the same thing again" given the chance, but that he doesn't want praise and that "the attention is a little scary for him." One fear, per his pal: that far-right extremists might target him.
  • Another honor? Petitions are circulating in a push for Goodman to also receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor that can be bestowed by the commander in chief. "Officer Eugene Goodman recognized a critical moment where the lives of others were at stake," one of the petitions reads. "He courageously risked himself to divert rioters and exemplifies the courage [and] bravery that is the hallmark of [Capitol] law enforcement. ... He is an American hero."
(Read more uplifting news stories.)

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