Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund is resigning after the violent protests on the U.S. Capitol just a day prior, a department spokesperson told CBS News. The resignation, which goes into effect on January 16, comes amid heavy criticism that his department was unprepared for the protests despite warning signs that they could become violent.
“It has been a pleasure and true honor to serve the United States Capitol Police Board and the Congressional community,” Sund wrote in his resignation letter.
The angry mob on Wednesday overwhelmed police officers, breaching the Capitol Building, breaking windows, destroying congressional offices and fighting officers. More than 50 officers were injured and four civilians died amid the chaos – police said three died from medical emergencies and a California woman was fatally shot by police.
Ahead of announcing his resignation, Sund defended the police response. “The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.,” he said, calling the officers’ actions “heroic given the situation they faced.”
Lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called for Sunds’ resignation. “Many of our Capitol Police just acted so bravely and with such concern for the staff,” Pelosi said Thursday. “But there was a failure at the top of the Capitol Police.”
Several top leaders and officials also criticized the “stark contrast” between the police officers’ actions with the Trump supporters and this summer’s protests against police brutality and racial inequality.
Earlier Thursday, President-elect Joe Biden criticized the police’s handling of protestors, calling it unacceptable. “No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently from the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” Biden said. “We all know that’s true.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson, in an appearance on CBSN, said police responded to peaceful anti-racism protesters “as if they were criminals” while the pro-Trump mob was able to freely walk out of the Capitol.
“There was much intel of what this group was coming to D.C. to do,” said Johnson. “They had been talking about it on social media. The president actually was promoting it. The fact that law enforcement agencies, particularly the Capitol Police, was ill-equipped to deal with what their stated purpose was, and it was to disrupt the certification of the election, that’s in stark contrast to the peaceful protests that we’ve seen in D.C. and all across the country.”
The Metropolitan Police Department arrested 68 people Wednesday and early Thursday morning, primarily for violating a curfew imposed by the city’s mayor. The U.S. Capitol Police also arrested 14 people during the rioting.
Capitol Police chief resigns after violent attack on U.S. Capitol The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ CBS News.