WASHINGTON—A former U.S. Capitol Police Officer testified during the Oath Keepers trial on Oct. 25 that no protesters tried to help him on January 6.

Ryan Salke, now a deputy sheriff in New Hanover County, North Carolina, joined the U.S. Capitol Police in 2018 and took two intensive classes on how to do his job at the Capitol. He served nine years in the Marines.

In a direct examination with a prosecutor, Salke said no one tried to help him at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He told the court that he felt disappointed because the crowd breached the Capitol that day.

“What would have been helpful on January 6?” asked attorney Manzo.

If no one would show up,” Salke responded.

Salke’s testimony stood in contrast to stories from multiple witnesses who said the Oath Keepers assisted Capitol Police at the Columbus Doors on the afternoon of Jan. 6. Capitol Police Lt. Tarik Johnson asked Oath Keepers member Michael Nichols to help him rescue 16 officers trapped in the foyer of the Great Rotunda.

Six Oath Keepers emerged from the crowd on the east steps to clear a path for the 16 officers, 15 outfitted in riot gear. Several thanked the Oath Keepers after they reached the bottom of the steps.

Defense attorney Brad Geyer has previously said a group of agitators used pepper spray and attacked police at the Columbus Doors that afternoon. The Oath Keepers were not part of those attacks, he said in earlier court filings. That information could be brought out during the defense case in late October or early November.

Salke wasn’t supposed to work on Jan. 6, 2021, but had to fill in for another officer. He arrived on the east side of the Capitol at 6:30 a.m. and noticed many people behind the bike racks used as barricades. At first, he said, he thought it was a regular crowd, but then people started to play speeches on their phones and talk about hurting former vice president Mike Pence if he didn’t act. Salke and other officers were tasked with a civil disturbance unit (CDU). Shortly after, he heard through his radio that protestors attacked Capitol police officers on the building’s west side.

Prosecutors displayed a video in the courtroom showing how people broke through the barriers. Salke was able to identify himself in the video footage. He and the other officers tried to create a police line on the steps of the east side of the Capitol, he told the court, but to no avail.

Salke testified that he did not call for backup since all officers were busy dealing with protestors elsewhere at the Capitol. He said he couldn’t arrest anyone “in the middle of a riot.”

The crowd pushed him in front of the Columbus doors, he said. The protestors were equipped with batons, pepper spray, and frozen water bottles.

“Did anyone try to help you?” questioned Manzo. “No,” Salke said.

“Does that sound like a stupid question?” continued Manzo. “Yes,” Salke responded, explaining that after protestors spent hours spraying him and other officers, obviously, they would not help.

Salke told the court that neither he nor any other officers ever instructed the crowd to enter the Capitol.

Defense lawyer Juli Haller asked Salke if the U.S. Capitol Police were short of staff on Jan. 6. Salke could not answer the question, saying he doesn’t know of any agency that protects and arrests thousands of people. Salke also told her that he knew something was happening at the White House but nothing about a rally at the Ellipse.

When Haller asked him if he saw peaceful and aggressive protestors at the Capitol, Salke said he saw no peaceful people that day, describing them as protestors who were only trying to get inside the Capitol.

Stewart Rhodes, Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, and Thomas Caldwell have been charged with seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, conspiracy to prevent an officer from carrying out any duties, destruction of government property, civil disorder, and tampering with documents.

Attorney Jeffrey Nestler, another prosecutor, told the court that U.S. Capitol Officer Harry Dunn, considered an important witness for the Oath Keepers trial, might take the witness stand tomorrow.

Haller, the defense attorney, asked Judge Amit Mehta if he could postpone the trial since Stanley Woodward, defense attorney for Meggs, had a scooter accident on Oct. 24 and cannot attend the trial.

Mehta turned down the request, telling Haller that it was up to her whether or not to prepare to cross-examine Dunn and that he could not in any way delay the trial.

Rhodes tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 24 and must wait at least five days in quarantine at the D.C. Detention Center in total insolation.

Correction: the article has been updated to correct the name spellings for Judge Amit Mehta and defense attorney Juli Haller.


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