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Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman gives his first interview since Jan. 6

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman arrives at Joe Biden's inauguration at the Capitol in January 2021.
Win McNamee
Getty Images
U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman arrives at Joe Biden's inauguration at the Capitol in January 2021.

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, widely seen as a hero for his bravery during the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, has broken his silence.

Speaking on an episode of the podcast3 Brothers No Sense — co-hosted by another Capitol police officer, Byron Evans — Goodman publicly described his experiences during the deadly riot for the first time.

"It could have turned. I heard stories of people being armed ... " Goodman said of the insurrection. "It could have easily been a bloodbath. Kudos to everyone there that showed a measure of restraint with deadly force because it could have been bad. Really, really bad."

Goodman became famous last year after a viral video from the attack showed how Goodman's heroism and, as he described it, "situational awareness" helped prevent further loss of life.

In the video, Goodman can be seen leading a mob of predominantly white Trump supporters away from the door leading to the Senate floor. The supporters were attempting to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election. By diverting the mob up a flight of stairs, he provided time for lawmakers and former Vice President Mike Pence to escape.

Another video depicts Goodman running down a Capitol hallway and warning Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, to head in the other direction to escape the mob.

Here's how Goodman described the critical encounter with Romney:

  • "What people don't know is that when I passed by Mitt Romney ... I had just come from another tunnel where other officers were. I was communicating on the radio and all that. When I got down there, down the stairs, and got confronted by all of them, I was backpedaling to where I had last seen help. They looked to be coming my way, but I wasn't sure."
  • One of the hosts then joked whether Goodman had considered not helping Romney, which he quickly rejected:

  • "It didn't [cross my mind]. When I got confronted, I didn't know they had gotten that far up into the building ... When you see me come up the stairs [in the video] ... and you see me look, before I went down there, [the Trump supporters] were actually out there and standing around. I told [the other officers] I think they are downstairs. So when I went down there and got confronted [by the mob], I thought, 'Oh, they are actually in the building' ... They locked eyes on me right away. Like that, I was in it. It was not a matter of leaving them alone. They would have followed me anyways."
  • Goodman, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, suggested that his military experience and training were critical."It all came together in that moment. I wasn't thinking about the military when I was in that moment, but it all came together in that moment ..." he said. "I was just in Go Mode."

    While Goodman said he was concerned with de-escalating the situation with the mob, his first priority was his and others' safety.

    "In any situation like that you want to de-escalate, but you also want to survive first," he said.

    As for why Goodman has declined interviews despite receiving numerous honors for his efforts, including a Congressional Gold Medal, he indicated that he's struggled with the negative aspects of his celebrity.

    "I have my ups and downs with the popularity because I tell people, you have to take the bad with the good," he said.

    "Man, people say you should embrace [the celebrity] but I say, 'Yeah but then I have to embrace the negativity too.' I'm trying to steer clear. That's mostly why I haven't done any interviews. I don't want any part of the negativity."

    The full interview with Goodman is available here (he starts talking around the 11-minute mark).

    This story first appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

    Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Harrison Jacobs