A Black Capitol Police officer, suspended after he was photographed wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ cap, while being on-duty as he defended the Capitol during riots on January 6th, claims he only wore the hat in order to blend in with the crowd and rescue his colleagues.
Lt. Tarik Khalid Johnson, 45, says that wearing the distinctive MAGA hat enabled him to blend in with the crowd and ultimately save his fellow officers who were trapped inside the building.
Johnson has explained to his coworkers that he decided to wear the iconic cap worn by Trump supporters in order to ‘win the trust’ of protesters and make it through the crowd.
A Capitol Police lieutenant, pictured, was suspended for wearing a MAGA cap during riot
Lt. Tarik Khalid Johnson, left, says he was trying to rescue his colleagues who were trapped inside the Capitol building at the time of the Capitol riot
His efforts enabled 16 police officers to escape from the building while shutting down the entrance and preventing more rioters from storming inside, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Video footage posted to YouTube shows the entire plan from start to finish and sees Johnson wearing a MAGA cap throughout.
He explains his problem to a small group of protesters and while wearing the bright red cap appears to quickly form a bond.
‘We’re getting beat up, but the people who didn’t vote for him, they’re laughing at us,’ he says.
‘If you guys could help me distract these people, I’d appreciate it,’ Johnson tells an unidentified man. ‘I need to get the other officers out. …They’re scared.’
Video footage of the day’s events shows the officer using the cap to garner support from protesters in order to make his way through the crowd
The entrance to the Capitol was packed with rioters, but those helping Johnson were able to clear a path up the steps to one of the doors to the building
The officer and the protesters faced a hold up once they reached the door to the Capitol
Johnson can then be heard asking two of the men present if they are able to help get him inside the Capitol. They quickly agree.
Video shows Johnson handing over his megaphone to the protestors who help clear a path up the steps of the Capitol which are swarming with protesters.
The group can be heard yelling ‘make a hole!’, ‘let the cops leave!’
The rioters who had crowded the steps briefly parted ways and let Johnson up into the building.
Video shows a brief struggle at the portico door just outside the Rotunda after some of the mob attempted to prevent the group getting in.
The protesters used the police officer’s megaphone to tell others to ‘make a hole’
16 Capitol Police officers wearing body armor and carrying plastic shields were seen leaving
Soon after, 16 officers who were clad in body armor and carrying shields left through the door to the cheer of rioters, some of whom thanked the cops by hugging them.
It’s not clear where Johnson got hold of the cap.
The Capitol police has since come under criticism for failing to adequately prepare for the siege.
Several officers including Johnson have been suspended in connection with the events while more than a dozen more are also under investigation.
The department said it is ‘actively reviewing video and other open source materials of some USCP officers and officials that appear to be in violation of Department regulations and policies. Our Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating these behaviors for disciplinary action, up to, and including, termination.’
‘Several USCP officers have already been suspended pending the outcome of their investigations,’ the statement read.
One Capitol police officer has since come to the defense of Johnson and said he heard him ask for permission to carry out his plan over the radio, but nobody in authority responded.
Five people died as a result of the riot, including one Capitol Police officer.
More than 100 have been arrested so far in connection with the riot.
Some of the protesters even stopped to hug the officers as they left the building
One woman, pictured, attempted to hug almost all of the 16 officers who walked free from the Capitol building