After Hearing, Capitol Rioter Apologizes to Officers

The reaction from officers who defended building from mob was mixed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2022 8:57 PM CDT
After Testifying, Capitol Rioter Apologizes to Police
Stephen Ayres, who pleaded guilty last month to disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, listens at a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 12, 2022.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A Capitol rioter testified at the House select committee hearing Tuesday—and later personally apologized to four law enforcement officers who tried to defend the building on Jan. 6 last year. After the hearing, Stephen Ayres apologized to Capitol Police officers Aquilino Gonell and Harry Dunn, DC Metropolitan Police officer Daniel Hodges, and former Metropolitan officer Michael Fanone, but the reaction was mixed, the AP reports. Hodges, who shook hands with Ayres, said he accepted the apology because he believes people can change, while Fanone told an AP reporter: "That apology doesn't do s--- for me. I hope it does s--- for him."

"He still has to answer for what he did legally. And to his God. So it’s up to him," said Gonell, whose doctors recently told him that he would no longer be able to work as a police officer because of injuries he sustained in the riot. Ayres, who entered the Capitol with other rioters, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor last month and is due to be sentenced in September. The Ohio resident testified Tuesday he lost his job and had to sell his home after the riot and it makes him angry that Trump is continuing to make false claims about election fraud, the Guardian reports.

Ayres told the hearing that he closely followed Trump's election claims in late 2020 and it would "definitely" have affected his decision to travel to Washington if he had known Trump had no evidence of election fraud. He said he hadn't planned on storming the Capitol before Trump's speech "got everybody riled up." In what the Washington Post describes as proof "that Trump's indifference for hours mattered," Ayres said he left the Capitol as soon as Trump tweeted that rioters should depart. "As soon as that came out, everyone started talking about it," he said. "It seemed it started to disperse some of the crowd." (Read more Jan. 6 hearings stories.)

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