The footage taken by HuffPost’s political reporter Igor Bobic has gone viral this past week, prompting people around the world to pay tribute to the officer as a hero. The U.S. Capitol Police have not publicly identified him, but three of his friends told The Washington Post that the officer is Eugene Goodman from Maryland, confirming what reporters on CNN and elsewhere have reported.
For 85 tense seconds, Goodman tries to hold back dozens of rebels and pulls himself twice up a flight of stairs. Police experts say he was not on the run, but lured the mob away from the Senate chambers, where lawmakers were sheltered, and armed officers ̵
His actions probably foresaw what could have been a violent confrontation, Kirk D. Burkhalter, a professor at New York Law School and a former New York City police officer, said in an interview.
“These people had zippers,” he said, referring to pictures of the rebels holding handcuffs with zippers that have emerged since the attack. “It is not unreasonable to say that they were ready to take hostages. . . . Officer Goodman really helped avoid a huge tragedy. ”
Friends who have spoken to Goodman since the riots, including two officers and a former colleague, said he has been ambivalent about the spotlight. Generally private and reserved, DC natives have begun to worry about becoming a potential target for right-wing extremist groups who have promised to return to DC this weekend and for next week’s inauguration.
“He said he would do the same again. He is not looking for acknowledgments, ”said a friend, a Capitol police officer, who asked not to be named because he had not been allowed to speak on the subject. “But the attention is a little scary to him.”
Neither Goodman nor a Capitol Police spokeswoman responded to requests for an interview.
Goodman, 40, grew up in southeast Washington and served in the Army from 2002 to 2006 and sent out in the 101st Airborne Division to Iraq for a year, said Cynthia Smith, a service spokeswoman. His prices include a combat infantry badge, indicating that he was in ground combat.
Those who know Goodman said his decision to lead the rebels away instead of directly engaging them reflects his military experience.
“He distracted people from getting on the senate floor and getting hostages. It was the smartest thing he could ever have done, ”said his colleague. “I do not know many people who can think of their feet like that. . . . His quick thinking made it possible for these senators to get to safety. ”
A close friend of Goodman’s, who asked to be identified by his first name, Terry, for fear of being targeted by right-wing extremists, said the officer has a reputation for being a calm leader in emergencies.
“I’ve always said if bullets start to tear through, I’ll find Goodman,” said the friend, who has spoken to Goodman several times since the incident. “He’s been in hostile firefighting, so he knows how to hold his head.”
Burkhalter, a New York professor, said Goodman in the video appears to be doing three tactical things at once: leading rebels away from Senate chambers, coordinating backups on second-floor landings, and exercising extreme restraint to prevent personal injury or loss of life. .
In the first part of the video, when Goodman retreats up a flight of stairs, he only briefly turns his back on the rebels, Burkhalter notes. Most of the time he backs away with his eyes against the mob and suggests that he is not running away from them but trying to lead them somewhere. When Goodman reaches the landing on the second floor, he looks to the left, where the entrance to the Senate chambers is located.
At this point, he is making a risky decision, Burkhalter said. He opens his collapsible baton – which had previously fallen to the floor – and easily pushes the man leading the rebel leader, later identified as Doug Jensen of Des Moines. Jensen looks briefly to the left and then follows Goodman, walking away from the Senate chambers and toward backup.
“By pushing him, the main rebel, he’s trying to get him to follow,” Burkhalter said. “He’s trying to scare them.”
Bobic, the reporter who filmed the video, said he realized days after the attack that Senate doors were sealed just minutes before Goodman had lured the rebels away. “If they had just gone right instead of left,” Bobic said in an interview, the uninvited guests might have reached out to lawmakers.
Keith Taylor, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and another former New York City police officer who reviewed the video, said Goodman showed considerable situational awareness. Even as he spoke and waved to the rebels, he communicated with colleagues through a radio attached to his uniform, Taylor said, giving them updates on where he was and where he was going.
By the end of the video, it appears he has led the rebels to another area where several other officers were preparing for a standoff. One can hear the mob shouting at Goodman and the other officers and calling them “traitors”.
Goodman’s restraint is also remarkable, Burkhalter said, as the uninvited guests had broken into the Capitol building, predominantly white and carrying symbols of the Confederacy. Many have since been identified as members of white nationalist organizations and militant right-wing organizations, such as the Proud Boys.
Usually, Burkhalter said when black people are persecuted by white people with Confederate flags, “it does not end well for the black people.”
Terry, who is white, said he and Goodman have talked about race, and about the conflicts Goodman feels like a black cop. “To him, it’s always like, ‘I’m too black for the badge, but too blue for the brothers,'” Terry said.
The video has drawn waves of praise for Goodman online. Ben Crump, a lawyer for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, tweeted that Goodman should be awarded the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor. Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) Said Congress “owes him a gratitude.” And former Senate candidate Jaime Harrison, who challenged Senator Lindsey O. Graham (R) in South Carolina, declared that Goodman’s “judgment & heroism may have saved our republic.”
Bobic said that if he meets Goodman, he would like to convey the hundreds of thousands of messages he has received from people around the world about the video. But he would also like to thank him personally for protecting him.
“If he was not there,” said Bobic, “I would have run flat-footed into the mob.”
Goodman’s stance on his job has remained the same despite his newfound fame, his friends said, adding that during the attack he was focused on eliminating the threat to lawmakers, not his own security.
“My job is to protect and serve,” he told colleagues after the video of him went viral. “And that day I protected.”
Dan Lamothe and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.