DC Officer Who Struck Protesters With Flagpole on Jan. 6 Bragged ‘That Was My Best Weapon’

By Joseph M. Hanneman
Joseph M. Hanneman
Joseph M. Hanneman
Joseph M. Hanneman is a reporter for The Epoch Times with a focus on the January 6 Capitol incursion and its aftermath, as well as general Wisconsin news. In 2022, he helped to produce "The Real Story of Jan. 6," an Epoch Times documentary about the events that day. Joe has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. He can be reached at: joseph.hanneman@epochtimes.us
February 27, 2023Updated: March 7, 2023

A Metropolitan Police Department officer wielding a wooden flagpole like a medieval lance inside the U.S. Capitol tunnel on Jan. 6, 2021, later bragged to fellow officers that the long wooden dowel was “my best weapon,” newly released bodycam video shows.

Video recorded by Officer Michael Dowling’s bodycam shows him climbing onto a narrow ledge in the Lower West Terrace tunnel and attacking a woman in a white coat standing near the entrance.

As Dowling jabbed at the woman—including two contacts to the head—she hurried to get off the ledge and escape the tunnel.

“I’m trying!” she cried out.

Someone at the front of the tunnel shouted at her, “Get the [expletive] out of here!”

Dowling picked up the flagpole from the floor of the tunnel entrance at 3:19 p.m. and moved into the tunnel.

After dislodging the woman in white, Dowling jabbed at a number of men at the front line who faced inward toward the police. That drew the ire of protest leader Anthony Alexander Antonio of Wilmington, Delaware, who had been addressing the crowd with a bullhorn.

“Quit that [expletive],” Antonio shouted at Dowling. “Quit that [expletive].”

Two hours later, after the crowds were pushed from the Lower West Terrace, Dowling met up with MPD Officer Jeffrey Leslie.

“I lost my flagpole,” Dowling lamented. “That was my best weapon.”

Epoch Times Photo
Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Dowling uses a flagpole to jab at protesters at the Lower West Terrace tunnel entrance of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Metropolitan Police Department/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

“You did well with that, sir,” Leslie replied. When another officer approached, Leslie told him, “This guy’s the man with the flagpole.”

Dowling explained, “I started jabbing people with the flagpole.”

A fourth officer joined the conversation. “You got a few people with it?” he asked.

“Oh yeah,” Dowling replied.


“It snapped, and then they took it back,” Dowling said.

After that conversation, Dowling went back into the Capitol and spoke with another MPD officer at the top of a staircase.

“Listen, I would have never thought I’d have the occasion to hit a man with the American flag in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building,” the officer told Dowling. “And I got to today.”

The Epoch Times asked the Metropolitan Police Department for comment on Dowling’s use of force, but did not receive a reply.

The tone for the afternoon was set at 2:41 p.m., when an officer in the staging area just inside the Capitol shouted instructions.

‘We need an old-school CDU [civil-disturbance unit] for these doors, you hear me? Old-school CDU,” the officer said. “Nightstick out. We are not losing the U.S. Capitol today! Do you hear me? We are not losing the U.S. Capitol!”

At 2:49 p.m., someone discharged a fire extinguisher into the tunnel, causing the interior Capitol hallways to fill with a dry airborne chemical.

‘Sordid Record’

Brad Geyer, the Jan. 6 defense attorney who posted the Dowling bodycam on Twitter, said the videos are peeling back the court-enforced veneer that, in many cases, hid the truth.

“Now that CCTV and MPD bodycam footage is emerging, more than two years too late, embarrassing and inconvenient facts are coming into the sunlight,” Geyer told The Epoch Times. “The public will find unwelcome surprises on these newly released tapes that show outrageous police misconduct and abuse of protesters on a grand scale.”

Geyer said Dowling’s conduct is “shocking” but “not atypical.”

“It is certainly not the worst conduct of police on that day. Protesters were bombarded by an array of ‘less than lethal’ munitions and, at times, were beaten mercilessly,” Geyer said.

“As this sordid record enters the public space, the American public is likely to see January 6 in a very different light,” Geyer said, “and January 6 Americans as a beleaguered minority that has been horrendously treated by the nation.“

Helped Move Rosanne Boyland

Dowling helped drag a pulseless Rosanne Boyland into the Capitol just after 4:31 p.m. He grabbed hold of her right foot and helped move her into the center of two hallways. Shortly before Dowling began pulling on Boyland’s leg, another officer slipped and fell on top of her.

Just minutes earlier, Dowling’s bodycam showed several MPD officers carrying a highly agitated MPD Officer Lila Morris from the tunnel into the building. “I can’t breathe,” Morris said.

Numerous videos from the crowd outside the tunnel showed Morris beating an unconscious Boyland about the face and head with a wooden walking stick she took from a rioter. Minutes later, when bystanders pulled Boyland to safety and began CPR, blood was visible on her face. Morris was not charged for the attack on Boyland.

Medics inside the Capitol did the first chest compressions on Boyland at 4:31 and 37 seconds, the video showed.

Dowling’s bodycam picked up the roar of protesters outside after Boyland was dragged inside. Officers at the front of the tunnel stood by while protesters repeatedly begged for medical help for Boyland.

Epoch Times Photo
Above: A police officer slips and falls on an unconscious Rosanne Boyland as Officer Michael Dowling helps move her into the Capitol. Below: Medics work to insert a breathing tube as CPR continues on Jan. 6, 2021. (Metropolitan Police Department/Screenshots via The Epoch Times)

Dowling walked back and forth past the area where tactical officers and other medics performed CPR on Boyland for 15 minutes. At 4:40 p.m., his bodycam picked up one of the medics saying, “No pulse.”

Eight minutes later, Dowling stood inside the two double doors that lead into the tunnel. An explosion at the tunnel mouth created a blinding flash.

At nearly 5:01 p.m., someone in the crowd with a bullhorn said, “You’re all a bunch of [expletive] traitors. Every last [expletive] one of you!”

Epoch Times Photo
Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Dowling fires a stream of high-velocity pepper spray at a protester at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Metropolitan Police Department/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

At 5:05 p.m., Dowling rummaged through a hard-shell case inside the double doors and handed out munitions to a platoon of Virginia State Police that worked its way to the tunnel entrance.

“Pass it up,” he told one officer after handing him a gas canister. Some 30 seconds later, explosions were heard on the Lower West Terrace.

Officers Dowling and Leslie were awarded the Ribbon of Valor by the Metropolitan Police Department for their service on Jan. 6.