Officer injured on Jan. 6 says resigning wasn’t his choice: ‘They did that to me, the mob’

Dec 15, 2022, 4:28 PM | Updated: 4:30 pm
U.S. Capitol Police officer Sgt. Aquilino Gonell becomes emotional as he testifies before the House...
U.S. Capitol Police officer Sgt. Aquilino Gonell becomes emotional as he testifies before the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 27, 2021. (Oliver Contreras/Pool via REUTERS/CNN)
(Oliver Contreras/Pool via REUTERS/CNN)

(CNN) — A US Capitol police officer injured on January 6, 2021, said Thursday that he is not leaving the force by choice, but “because they did that to me, the mob.”

“It’s tough making that decision after 16 years. Almost half of my life I had dedicated to be a public servant both in the military and also as a police officer,” US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.” “I’m not leaving because of my own accord but because they did that to me, the mob, and the people who support the former president.”

Gonell publicly announced his departure from the department this week, citing the lingering trauma of the US Capitol riot as a key reason for the end of his career, and he told CNN on Tuesday he made the decision to not return to the workplace in-person after he found a photo of former President Donald Trump taped to his work computer in October.

A Capitol Police spokesman previously told CNN, “We cannot comment on potential internal investigations,” when asked about the October incident described by Gonell.

“We are grateful for his many years of service, his sacrifice and his dedication to our mission,” the department said in a statement.

Over the past two years, Gonell has become a public face of the insurrection’s toll and a vocal critic of Trump and the Republicans who continued to defend him.

Gonell was badly beaten on January 6, as rioters descended on the US Capitol, bludgeoned police and sprayed chemical irritants. He was caught in a tunnel on the West Front, engaging in some of the most brutal fighting of the day, and he told CNN in his first interview in June 2021 that the chemical irritants soaked through his riot gear and clothing.

The hours-long fight left Gonell with injuries to his foot and shoulder. He spent months undergoing multiple surgeries and extensive medical rehabilitation. He eventually returned to the department working light duty for a time.

“Although my goal has been to return to full and unrestricted duty, my medical conditions are permanent,” he wrote in a letter to the Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger that he posted on Twitter on Monday.

“Having to return to the scene of the crime almost every day has become taxing, unbearable and not conducive to healing. After speaking with my orthopedic doctor, my mental health providers, and my family, I think it’s in my best interest to take time off away from the daily reminders that keep re-triggering my trauma.”

Despite the October incident, Gonell has complimented the men and women he stood beside throughout his career.

“I feel blessed that I’ve been able to work with so many incredible men and women of the Capitol Police force,” he wrote on Twitter this week. “I will always support and defend the United States and my fellow police officers as they stand between order and chaos.”

Gonell’s last day with the department is Saturday, he said.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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Officer injured on Jan. 6 says resigning wasn’t his choice: ‘They did that to me, the mob’