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Harry Dunn’s account of January 6 does not add up. At all.
Brent Stirton / Staff | Getty Images

Harry Dunn’s account of January 6 does not add up. At all.

A review of hundreds of hours of video evidence from the day does not corroborate the Capitol Hill police officer’s account.

United States Capitol Police Office Harry Dunn attracted a raft of media attention and won a Presidential Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, and a lucrative book deal for his harrowing account of his role in the events of January 6, 2021. In Dunn’s telling, “thousands of white supremacists and anti-Semites” were “among the sea of humanity that descended on the Capitol” on January 6 to overturn the 2020 presidential election and do untold violence to members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence.

Dunn’s story made him a media hero. And a martyr.

In his media appearances, in his testimony before Congress, and in his memoir published in October, Dunn described how he was the target of vicious racial abuse, claiming that “20, 30, 40, 50 people” crowded around him and chanted the N-word during the chaos of the afternoon.

But a review of hundreds of hours of video evidence from the day does not corroborate Dunn’s account.

Dunn is currently in the middle of a media tour and giving talks to sell his book, but no one is asking him the obvious question: How much of his story is actually true? Sadly, the answer is: not much. I will continue exploring his falsehoods in this and future articles. There is a lot of ground to cover.

The place to start, however, is with what is indisputably true: Dunn’s struggles with mental health issues that were on full display on January 6.

Anger management

In the prologue of “Standing My Ground: A Capitol Police Officer's Fight for Accountability and Good Trouble After January 6th,” Dunn writes: “If January 6th hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have gone through the mental anguish that I did and that I am still working through with counseling.”

Admirably, Dunn has become a cause célèbre in his many media appearances advocating that law enforcement officers seek mental health care, specifically related to post-traumatic stress they experience following riots and other violent events in which they are often called upon to engage.

In chapter five of “Standing My Ground,” Dunn describes the USCP’s “employee assistance program,” which provides counselors for the department’s officers to discuss “whatever is on their minds.” He calls the EAP counselors a “starter kit” but says it’s not a “substitute for professional therapy.” About the EAP, he says, “It’s a good and necessary program, and I had used it before January 6th.”

But later in the book, Dunn describes in great detail how he’s already spent much of his adolescence and adult life in therapy.

“I may have been more open to counseling because therapy was normal to me,” he explains. “I had gone through it when I was in middle school, around age thirteen or fourteen." Speaking of the reasons why his parents put him through those therapy sessions, he says, “One was anger issues.”

Dunn goes out of his way to describe his “anger issues”: “I was irrational … other times I would have temper tantrums.” “I had good intentions,” Dunn said of his early struggles. “I just couldn’t control my emotions. Sometimes, I really got out of hand.”

Later in life, as an adult, before January 6, 2021, he spoke of his failed marriage after becoming a police officer: “I had a lot of anger. ‘She got me looking like a f***ing failure.’” He added, “So I found a therapist.”

Dunn’s January 6 breakdowns

Dunn’s anger issues were on display on January 6, 2021, and not because of the supposed physical battles he claimed to have fought personally with rioters.

While he did witness violence while on the Capitol’s upper west terrace balcony, where he was perched for about an hour, Dunn spent most of the day avoiding direct conflict with protesters.

When Blaze Media is permitted to release the videos we have already examined of Dunn’s behaviors on that day, we will show them to you. The second installment of our video series “The Truth About January 6” uses open-source videos of a number of Dunn’s outbursts that have been released to the public through several trials of January 6 defendants.

'You’ll be finished!'

At 2:39:38 p.m., while standing atop a staircase in the Capitol’s crypt — directly below the Great Rotunda — Dunn was captured on at least four D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officers’ body-worn cameras shouting at a small handful of protesters at the far side of the crypt room.

“You’ll be finished ... in one f***ing minute,” shouted Dunn, who was carrying an M4 carbine. “You’re f***ing hurting us. Get the f*** out of here! Get the f*** out of here! You’re hurting us! You’re hurting us!”

There were no protesters near Dunn and no violence in the crypt when Dunn screamed those words. USCP Captain Ben Smith can be seen on a body camera, hurrying immediately to Dunn and placing his right hand on Dunn’s shoulder, imploring him to calm down.

In a two-hour phone interview I conducted on February 2 with a currently serving USCP officer, he explained that Dunn had been his field training officer when he joined the department. I played the audio of that outburst from Dunn for him over the phone. The officer expressed shock. “That’s exactly the opposite of the de-escalation tactics Dunn taught me,” he said.

Even more telling is that all the MPD officers near Dunn on the staircase had just entered the building from the lower west terrace, where they had been involved in direct violence, and each of them had been hit with pepper spray from the more violent provocateurs. Yet each was calm in the moment of Dunn’s angry outburst. By contrast — as Capitol CCTV video will show — Dunn had not been engaged in any violence or direct contact with any pepper spray leading up to this outburst.

Nervous hands

Approximately four minutes after this temper tantrum, Dunn broke out into a run toward a staircase leading up to the Great Rotunda.

When he reached that staircase, he accidentally triggered the mechanism to release the magazine from his M4 rifle. It bounced off the hard floor at the bottom of the staircase. Two other officers reacted to help, and one picked up the magazine and handed it to Dunn. This was all captured by a Capitol CCTV camera, and you can watch it in the second video in our series, embedded above.

It was in this distressed, highly agitated state that Dunn encountered the Oath Keepers, seconds later, at the top of the stairs.

Dunn first encountered Oath Keeper Kenneth Harrelson. On October 31, 2022, Dunn testified in the Oath Keepers trial. He was questioned by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra Hughes after viewing a video of that incident:

Hughes: Officer Dunn, what did you hear yourself saying in that video?

Dunn: What I could make clearly out, what I said is, “We have dozens of officers down. They're taking them out on stretchers. Y'all are f***ing us up.”

Apart from what it revealed about his emotional state, the problem with what Dunn was furiously yelling at Harrelson is that Dunn had not seen any officers taken out on stretchers, at least not in what he’d witnessed before and leading up to his encounter with the Oath Keepers. In thousands of hours of video made public — from cellphone cameras, media photojournalists, and Capitol CCTV — there has been no evidence produced of police officers carried off on stretchers on January 6.

'Get the rest of these motherf***ers out of here'

In chapter three, Dunn’s rundown of “the insurrection,” he writes at one point about the Rotunda: “Most of the rioters were gone, but a few were left. I saw a couple of officers, and I said, ‘Let’s get the rest of these motherf***ers out of here.’”

The truth is, Dunn had been standing in an area just outside the Rotunda — variously called the small rotunda or the Speaker’s Lobby — for several minutes, observing other officers clearing the great room. The video shows he was not engaged with or helping those officers in clearing out protesters, consistent with how he had avoided action the entire day.

At 3:20:40 p.m., Dunn entered the clearing Rotunda alone. Most of those remaining in the Rotunda were fellow officers. The entire room was completely under the control of law enforcement officials. Upon entering, Dunn angrily walked to the far end of the room to confront a woman in a red sweater, sitting calmly on a bench by herself. As he approached, he was waving his right hand and obviously addressing her. Although the Capitol CCTV video does not include audio, Dunn appeared to be shouting at her, telling her to leave.

Another alarmed officer quickly intervened and took the woman by the arm, leading her away from Dunn and out of the room. Dunn did not mention this incident in the book.

'And I pushed him'

Of his time in the Rotunda, he also wrote, “There was a particular rioter wheezing against the wall. He couldn’t breathe because he was overcome with pepper spray.” Dunn continued:

He’s saying, “I can’t breathe.” An officer comes over to him and says, “Can I help you, sir?” The officer gave him a bottle of water so he could wash off some of the s**t that was irritating him. I ran over and snatched the bottle out of the dude’s hand and threw it halfway across the Rotunda. I said, “f*** you. Get the f*** out." And I pushed him.

Admitting he pushed a protester suffering from the effects of pepper spray is stunning, except that Dunn seems to enjoy telling stories about his physical confrontation with the protesters — for which there is zero evidence in all of the hours of video Blaze Media has viewed.

I described this account to another high-ranking former USCP commander, and he explained that if Dunn did take the bottle of water from the man, he violated his training — which is to render aid to injured protesters, even with the violent ones who had been subdued.

In this case, as in so many others, Dunn’s version of the event does not appear on Capitol CCTV. Immediately after he went after the sitting woman, the man he wrote about “wheezing against the wall” was in truth sitting near the middle of the Rotunda’s floor, surrounded by other officers.

At 3:21:23 p.m., Dunn appeared to shout as he angrily approached the man and swiftly bent over and snatched his water bottle. Dunn then walked across the floor and placed the bottle on the pedestal of a statue. He did not throw it.

Dunn’s behavior was alarming enough at that point, such that, just after he placed the bottle on the statue’s pedestal, a higher-ranking officer can be seen in the middle of the Rotunda pointing out Dunn to another “M4 unit,” telling him to get Dunn out of the Rotunda.

An “M4 unit,” like Dunn, is a USCP officer trained to use and carry an automatic rifle. This other officer hurried over to Dunn, signaled him to leave the Rotunda, and then escorted him out. Dunn complied, and the two officers exited at 3:21:52 p.m.

I showed the video to former USCP Lt. Tarik Johnson. He said Dunn’s behavior was indeed out of line and that the direction of the higher-ranking officer to the other M4 unit was exactly as it seemed: to remove Dunn from the area.

Dunn’s defenders may claim the incidents described in his book must have occurred in a different place or time of day. But Blaze Media video analysts have reviewed each occurrence of Dunn’s incursions into the Capitol Rotunda on January 6, and no such episodes as Dunn described in his memoir ever occurred.

An unstable man

The outrageous truth is that Dunn’s lies are easily disprovable by anyone who examines the evidence. Far from the hero he portrays himself to be, when he was not hiding on January 6, 2021, Dunn was needlessly and recklessly screaming at and otherwise confronting protesters who posed no threat to him, violating official protocols and procedures. Other officers repeatedly had to intervene to calm him down.

It is unfortunate that the media is celebrating the many lies in Dunn’s book, but the real tragedy is that this unstable man’s testimony in a federal trial was instrumental in the conviction and sentencing of several Americans to years in federal prison.

Dunn’s emotional instability is only the beginning of the story of what happened in the Oath Keepers trials. While Blaze Media continues to wait for the release of the footage we discovered weeks ago, when we were allowed to examine the video in the care of House Republicans, we will continue to publish what we already know.

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