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Officer Harry Dunn denies Oath Keepers tried to help during Capitol riot

USCP Officer Harry Dunn testified before a jury Monday in the seditious conspiracy trial of five members of the Oath Keepers militia.

A Capitol Police officer told jurors Monday that Oath Keepers on trial for seditious conspiracy did not offer to help protect him from the mob on Jan. 6.

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn was called as a witness on the 16th day of testimony in the trial of five members of the Oath Keepers. The group, which includes leader Stewart Rhodes, faces a slew of charges for allegedly conspiring to stop the transfer of presidential power following the 2020 election.

The Oath Keepers have offered up a number of defenses against those charges, including pointing out some members were working security details on Jan. 6 and claiming those Oath Keepers who entered the Capitol did so with the intention of helping police. To support the latter, defense attorneys have focused on an interaction two of the Oath Keepers on trial had with Dunn inside the building.

Jurors were shown multiple videos of Dunn, who previously testified before the January 6th Committee about the verbal abuse and racial insults he received during the assault on the Capitol, standing alone at the top of a second-floor stairwell near the Speaker’s Office. In the videos, a crowd of people can be seen attempting to move past him. Dunn said he was trying to convey to the rioters how serious the situation had become.

“We have dozens of officers down,” Dunn said he told the crowd. “They’re taking us out on stretchers. Y’all are f***ing us up.”

“You want an all-out war,” Dunn said he told them. “You want to kill everybody.”

Dunn also testified that he was worried rioters would try to take the rifle he had slung across his torso.

“Did anyone offer to help you in this video?” assistant U.S. attorney Alexandra Hughes asked.

“No,” Dunn said.

In the videos, Oath Keepers Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson – both among the five defendants on trial – can be seen near the front of the crowd. At times they are facing away from Dunn, which their attorneys have suggested shows they were attempting to place themselves between the officer and rioters for his protection. As further evidence of this, the defense attorneys asked Dunn about a statement he made in an interview with the FBI about allowing people in military-style gear to stand in front of him.

On the witness stand Monday, Dunn said that interaction happened while he was guarding a different stairwell leading down to the Lower West Terrace where officers were being decontaminated. Dunn also said that while he initially though the people in military-style gear might have been Oath Keepers, they did not appear to have Oath Keepers patches and could have been members of other groups who were dressed similarly that day.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Brad Geyer, who represents Harrelson, suggested Dunn might have “conflated” the two events and further claimed a brief video clip showed his client straight-arming a rioter he has previously referred to as a “provocateur.”

“Maybe there weren’t two events… maybe there was just one event,” Geyer said. “What you’re able to see – the straight-arm, the Oath Keepers arrayed out in front of you – maybe they reasonably believed they were helping you.”

Geyer attempted to ask Dunn multiple times whether his client might have thought he was helping, which drew sustained objections from prosecutors. His cross-examination ended with a blunt denial from Dunn.

“They tried to get past me and I stopped them,” Dunn said. “They didn’t. I did.”

A second witness called Monday, U.S. Capitol Police Special Agent David Lazarus, testified that he witnessed multiple interactions between Dunn and the mob that included Oath Keepers members and all of them seemed “antagonistic.”

On redirect, Hughes asked Dunn what the Oath Keepers could have done if they wanted to help him on Jan. 6.

“Just leave the building,” he said.

WUSA9 reporter Jordan Fischer will be in court throughout the trial providing daily coverage. Follow him on Twitter at @JordanOnRecord and subscribe to our weekly newsletter “Capitol Breach” for all the latest Jan. 6 coverage. 

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