Terror in the Capitol Tunnel

In 2018, after a local news crew filmed Ryan Nichols rescuing dogs abandoned by their owners after Hurricane Florence, the former Marine appeared on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Not only did DeGeneres commend Nichols’ longtime work as a search-and-rescue volunteer, she donated $25,000 to the Humane Society in his name and gave Ryan and his wife, Bonnie, a $10,000 check to pay for the honeymoon they had missed the year before so Ryan could assist rescue efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

But instead of heading to Hawaii, the Nicholses used the generous donation to buy a rescue boat. With his Marine buddy and best friend, Alex Harkrider, at his side, the pair has participated in “dozens of hurricane rescues and disaster relief efforts,” according to Joseph McBride, Nichols’ attorney.

Three years after his appearance on the DeGeneres show, Nichols was featured on another program, but this time, Nichols spoke from the fetid confines of a political prison in the nation’s capital. And instead of telling a heroic story of saving dogs drowning in rising flood waters, Nichols told Newsmax host Greg Kelly a harrowing tale of what he saw at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

“We showed up in good faith . . . to protest the election results but never would have imagined we would encounter the horrors that we did on the west terrace and in the tunnel that day,” Nichols explained to Kelly in a phone interview on November 9. “When I saw women being beaten and in distress, my rescue instinct kicked in and I knew I had no choice but to help rescue them.”

Nichols’ account is detailed in an appalling new court filing that confirms what American Greatness has reported for months: on January 6, D.C. Metro and Capitol police assaulted nonviolent protesters with explosive devices, rubber bullets, tear gas, and in some cases, their own fists and batons. A tunnel on the lower west side of the Capitol building became a dangerous—and, likely for at least one protester, deadly—battle scene as police viciously attacked American citizens on the “hallowed” grounds of the U.S. Congress.

Nichols, of Texas, has been behind bars since his January 18 arrest; he sits in the D.C. jail specifically used to house January 6 detainees, charged along with Harkrider with multiple offenses including assault of a police officer, civil disorder, and unlawful possession of pepper spray.

So, what on Earth turned two decorated veterans with a history of helping people in crisis into “insurrectionists” who attacked police officers? It was what they saw when they approached the tunnel around 3 p.m. on January 6. “They hear people screaming in pain and crying for help—women and old men are bloodied and injured,” McBride wrote in a motion seeking Nichols’ release. “Training and instincts kick in and they head to the tunnel, wondering if an accident had happened and if other people were even more seriously injured.”

McBride viewed three hours of surveillance video captured by Capitol security camera—the extensive system captured at least 14,000 hours of footage that the Justice Department and Capitol police are desperate to keep away from public view—and described for the first time what happened inside the tunnel where a combination of D.C. and Capitol police, ostensibly, were stationed to prevent protesters from entering the building:

“[Just] after 4:00 pm, Ryan is sprayed multiple times by an officer standing on a ledge in the tunnel,” McBride wrote in a November 1 filing. “He is also separated from a woman who stood next to Ryan at different times at the Western Terrace. She was middle aged and nice. Ryan promised to keep an eye on her. The woman was wearing a red shirt and a MAGA hat. Shortly thereafter, officers begin terrorizing people in and around the tunnel. People are screaming and getting crushed. There is a pile of human beings stacked on top of each other at the tunnel entrance. People are trapped and there is nowhere to go.”

McBride focused on the conduct of one officer in particular, with badge number L359 and wearing a white shirt. The unidentified officer begins “to beat a man for no apparent reason . . . [and] beats the man so badly that the man crawls over to the woman with the MAGA hat.”

At this point, according to the security video, the officer turns his sights on the woman. “Then for reasons that no fair minded or decent human being will ever understand—[the officer wearing the] White-shirt turns his attention to the woman and begins to pulverize her,” McBride explained. “The weapon this officer appears to be using is a collapsible stick, designed to break windows in emergency situations. This stick is neither designed nor to be used against another human being.”

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