Embed from Getty Images

Law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riots offered powerful and often emotional testimony before lawmakers on Tuesday, recounting scenes of chaos, violence and destruction as the House select committee kicked off its investigation. 

The four police officers on the stand described fearing for their lives as they were overwhelmed by the sheer size of the mob — and how many of them are still suffering from physical and emotional trauma more than six months later, the Hill reports.

Aquilino Gonell, a Capitol Police sergeant and Army veteran, recounted how he and other officers trying to fight off the rioters were punched, kicked, sprayed with chemical irritants and beaten with flagpoles. 

"On Jan. 6, for the first time, I was more afraid working at the Capitol than during my entire Army deployment to Iraq. In Iraq, we expected armed violence, because we were in a war zone. But nothing in my experience in the Army, or as a law enforcement officer, prepared me for what we confronted on Jan. 6," Gonell said.