April 12, 2021

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Acting Capitol police chief: No ‘specific credible threat’ before riot; officers unsure of lethal force authority – USA TODAY

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Echoing the previous Senate testimony of her former boss, the acting Capitol police chief said officials did not anticipate and failed to prepare for the thousands of rioters who stormed the Capitol last month in a deadly attempt to halt the congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s election, according to an opening statement Chief Yogananda Pittman is expected to deliver Thursday to a House Committee.

But Pittman, who was elevated to acting chief following the resignation of Steven Sund, also is expected to describe problems that go beyond intelligence failures to include striking gaps in basic training, including a lack of clarity for when officers could have used lethal force against the mob.

More:U.S. Capitol riot: Top officials say they did not see FBI warning of calls for violence

More:Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund’s request for National Guard backup was denied, he says in interview

One rioter was fatally shot that day by a Capitol police officer when she attempted to climb through a shattered glass door at the Capitol building.

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, left, stands next to Monique Moore, right, in 2012 when they were promoted as the first two African-American women to rank of captain on the U.S. Capitol Police force.

“Officers were unsure of when to use lethal force on January 6th,” Pittman states. “We have provided guidance to officers since January 6th as to when lethal force may be used consistent with the department’s existing Use of Force policy.”

The acting chief goes further, acknowledging that the strategy for use of non-lethal munitions fell short in the hours-long battle against the mob. According to Pittman’s statement, a lockdown of the Capitol also “was not properly executed,” and she states that officers lacked training for a scenario that included a mass breach of the building.

“The department recognized that its training largely focuses on keeping unauthorized persons out of buildings on the Capitol Complex and not scenarios in which a building has been breached,” Pittman says.

In testimony before a joint Senate investigating committee, Sund confirmed that officers lacked such training. 

Former US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs & Senate Rules and Administration joint hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 23, 2021, to examine the January 6th attack on the Capitol.

Referring to the inadequate intelligence, Pittman’s statement largely tracks Sund’s account.

The acting chief indicates that threat assessments prepared in the days before the riots “foretold of a significant likelihood for violence on Capitol grounds by extremists groups…(but) did not identify a specific credible threat indicating that thousands of American citizens would descend upon the U.S. Capitol attacking police officers with the goal of breaking into the U.S. Capitol Building.”

Pittman’s written testimony, however, does not specifically refer to an ominous FBI intelligence report shared with Capitol authorities the day before the attack warning that protestors were “preparing for war.” Pittman indicates that the department hosted a Jan. 5 teleconference with its law enforcement partners, including the FBI, when intelligence related to the planned Jan. 6 demonstration was discussed along with inauguration preparations.

In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump scale the west wall of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

But Sund told the Senate committee Tuesday that the FBI bulletin had been received by the agency’s intelligence division but had not been shared with the command staff.

The acting chief is expected to appear before the House committee along with Timothy Blodgett, the acting House sergeant at arms. 

“It pains me to say this today, but the intelligence missteps cascaded into inadequate preparation, which placed the health and lives of front-line officers at risk,” Blodgett says in a prepared statement. “While front line officers did everything they could that day, the Capitol Police was prepared for a 1st Amendment event, but not adequately prepared for the events January 6th.”

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