WASHINGTON (WJZ/AP) — Lawmakers at the state and federal levels are recognizing the bravery of a U.S. Capitol Police officer from Maryland for his heroism during the deadly riots at the Capitol last week.
On Friday, the Maryland State Senate unanimously approved a resolution commending Ofc. Eugene Goodman, a Prince George’s County resident, for “his bravery and service to our nation in the face of a violent insurrection, likely saving the lives of many in the U.S. Senate on January 6, 2021.”READ MORE: CDC Releases Highly Anticipated Guidance For People Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19
“When facing an angry mob, he diverted them from others who were in harm’s way,” Sen. Melony Griffith (D-Prince George’s County) said on the Senate floor Friday afternoon.
On Capitol Hill, a group of bipartisan representatives — Reps. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-Mo.) and Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) — introduced a bill this week to award Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal.
“The United States Capitol was under attack by armed, violent extremists, and Officer Eugene Goodman was the only thing standing between the mob and the United States Senate,” Crist said in a statement. “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. While some will remember last Wednesday for the very worst in our country, the patriotism and heroics of Officer Eugene Goodman renew my faith and remind us all what truly makes the United States great.”
The four-page bill also praises Goodman for “intentionally divert(ing) attention away from the Senate entrance and (leading) the mob to an alternate location and additional awaiting officers.”
“By putting his own life on the line and successfully, single-handedly leading insurrectionists away from the floor of the Senate Chamber, Officer Eugene Goodman performed his duty to protect the Congress with distinction, and by his actions, Officer Goodman left an indelible mark on American history,” it reads.
In the week since a mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol, the House has impeached President Donald Trump. Dozens of people have been arrested nationwide over participation in the riots. Politicians and business leaders are loudly condemning the violence. Twitter and other social media sites have banned Trump and thousands of other accounts.
Yet amid all the noise, Goodman, hailed as a hero for confronting the insurrectionists and leading them away from Senate chambers, has remained silent.
Goodman isn’t saying whether he thinks he saved the Senate, as many of the millions who’ve viewed the video believe. In fact, Goodman isn’t saying anything at all publicly — not to reporters, not 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.
But the video speaks volumes.
Goodman, a Black man facing an overwhelmingly white mob, is the only officer seen for a full minute of the footage, shot by reporter Igor Bobic of HuffPost. Goodman stands in front of the rioters, walks backward until he reaches a collapsible baton lying on the floor, and picks it up. “Back up … back it up!” he yells, keeping his eyes on the mob. He turns and runs upstairs, waving the baton, as the group follows.
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Here’s the scary moment when protesters initially got into the building from the first floor and made their way outside Senate chamber. pic.twitter.com/CfVIBsgywK
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 6, 2021
Goodman calls “second floor” into his radio, then takes a brief glance and half a step to his left at the top of the stairs. Two chairs sit on either side of an entrance to the U.S. Senate chamber, just a few steps away. Dozens of rioters are right in front of him, no other officers to be seen.
Goodman shoves one of the rioters and walks to the right, away from the chamber. The mob follows, and Goodman leads them to a room where other officers wait.
The time on the video is 2:14 p.m. The Senate stopped its proceedings to begin clearing the chamber at 2:15 p.m.
Five died in the riots, including one of Goodman’s fellow officers. Legislative offices were trashed, gallows were built outside, and a video showed a woman shot dead while journalists, Congress members and staff hid.
The images of Goodman spread via social media and news sites, a foil to the bloody and messy scenes elsewhere at the Capitol. People called him brave, impressive, effective. They dissected the video, guessing about his strategy and decision-making.
But not all the commentary has been kind. Backing up and running away is weak, some said. It was a staged photo op, others alleged.
Goodman has been silent. He didn’t respond to text messages and phone calls The Associated Press left at potential numbers for him. The head of the Capitol Police union said only that Goodman didn’t want to talk to reporters. Spokeswoman Eva Malecki said the Capitol Police isn’t giving interviews or discussing Goodman’s actions.
Public records shed a little light on Goodman. He served in the Army as an infantryman for more than four years, leaving with the rank of sergeant in December 2006 after a year in Iraq. He has worked for the Capitol Police since at least mid-2009.
But that’s about it. Goodman’s friends, family, buddies he would have known from the military, members of Congress and force colleagues all begged off interviews about him. They say he wants to maintain his privacy.
Online and in much of the public eye, Goodman is a hero. Plenty of people, famous and not, suggested he has earned the Medal of Honor. A Republican and two Democrats in the U.S. House introduced a bill Thursday to give him the Congressional Gold Medal.
“If not for the quick, decisive, and heroic actions from Officer Goodman, the tragedy of last week’s insurrection could have multiplied in magnitude to levels never before seen in American history,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri.
But the representatives didn’t respond to messages asking if they met with Goodman. In a tweet promoting the bill, they show not a formal photo of Goodman in uniform, but an image of him facing the mob — his eyes wide open, mask down below his nose, baton behind him.
AP journalist Jeffrey Collins and news researcher Randy Herschaft contributed.MORE NEWS: COVID In Maryland: Hospitalizations Under 800 First Time Since November
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