A sergeant for the U.S. Capitol Police testified Wednesday that a Maine man who participated in the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 pulled his shoulder so hard that he needed surgery for torn tissue.

“Definitely one of the worst pains I’ve felt in my life,” Sgt. Aquilino Gonell told a Washington, D.C., courtroom, comparing it to breaking his foot while playing basketball five years ago.

Kyle Fitzsimons

Gonell testified on the second day of the trial of Kyle Fitzsimons, 38, of Lebanon, who faces nearly a dozen charges for his role in the attempted insurrection. Federal prosecutors say Fitzsimons assaulted Gonell and two officers from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department during the riot at the Capitol.

Fitzsimons, whose case will be decided by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras since he waived his right to a jury trial, was the first of five people in Maine to be charged for crimes related to Jan. 6. He faces two counts of inflicting bodily injury on officers and one count of using a dangerous or deadly weapon on an officer.

Officer Sarah Beaver of the Metropolitan Police, who testified before Gonell on Wednesday, said that she had already been vomited on and struck by a can of bear spray while defending the Capitol when she was hit in the helmet by a bow.

She didn’t see who threw the bow, but prosecutors showed video and still photos of Fitzsimons that they say make it clear it was his doing.


“There were officers gagging, there were officers laying down, there were officers trying to help other officers …” Beaver testified. “They were throwing all kinds of stuff at us.”

Phuson Nguyen of the Metropolitan Police was the first witness to testify in Fitzsimons’ trial. He told the court on Tuesday that Fitzsimons pulled off his gas mask while another demonstrator aimed what appeared to be bear spray at his face. Fitzsimons then released the mask – and when it snapped back, Nguyen dropped to the ground, choking and burning.

“In my head, I thought that was it for me,” he said Tuesday.

In his testimony Wednesday, Gonell said that Fitzsimons, wearing a white jacket, grabbed onto his shield while Gonell was trying to help another officer who had fallen. Not only was Fitzsimons pulling at his shield, he was pulling at him, Gonell said. He believed Fitzsimons was trying to pull him into the crowd.

Gonell said he’d already been in fear for his life that day as other rioters grabbed at and attacked him. He said he considered drawing his gun on Fitzsimons. But he didn’t want to make things worse for other officers because he didn’t know how the rioters would react.

“How can you be sure, in all this chaos, that it was this defendant who grabbed your shield?” prosecutor Michael Gordon asked after having Gonell review images of Fitzsimons at the riot.


“There was no one else in a white jacket that I observed in that moment,” Gonell said.

“How can you be sure that it was this defendant whose actions injured your shoulder?”

“That’s when I felt the pain,” Gonell said.

Gonell said that he encountered Fitzsimons after about 3 ½ hours of guarding the Capitol.

Fitzsimons was one of hundreds of rioters surrounding officers. Many were chanting “U.S.A.,” shouting “Heave-ho,” calling the officers “traitors.”

Gonell said many of the rioters were as armed as police were, wearing protective gear and carrying spears and chemical spray.


“We were injured, we were outnumbered, and we held the line. We had to, that’s what we signed up for,” Gonell said. “No matter what we did, they were not listening to us, they were telling us that they had to go through us to achieve their goal, to ‘stop the steal.'”

“Stopping Congress from certifying the election, is that right?” Gordon asked.

“Yes sir,” Gonell said.

Gonell has spoken publicly before about his Jan. 6 experience. He has testified in Congress about the events of the day and given interviews to national news outlets. On Wednesday he said he is working on a book.

Attorney Natasha Taylor-Smith, a public defender assigned to Fitzsimons, focused on Gonell’s interviews, two of which were paid. She highlighted his previous statements that sentences were not high enough.

Before trial, Taylor-Smith wrote in court filings to the court that Gonell has contradicted himself in public statements. She tried to subpoena an unedited version of a CNN interview, to which the network objected. The judge denied the request.


“Mr. Fitzsimons plans to impeach Sergeant Gonell’s testimony by showing that Sergeant Gonell has retold the events of January 6 differently on different occasions,” Fitzsimons’ attorney wrote in court records. “Because Sergeant Gonell has retold the events differently on different occasions, he cannot possibly remember the precise details about which he will testify.”

Taylor-Smith also suggested in her cross-examination of the other officers that it’s difficult to tell from their body camera or from surveillance footage whether Fitzsimons is clearly responsible for their assaults.

She told the court Tuesday that her client showed up at the Capitol to support a constitutional and legal process, in which elected members of Congress could have voted against certifying the presidential vote. She said Fitzsimons was following information from “mainstream” sources – news outlets and federal and state officials who were speaking about alleged “irregularities” in the electoral results.

“He was still being told by these same mainstream individuals, and by the chief executive officer of this nation, that there was a plan,” Taylor-Smith said. “That plan did not include the military. It did not include violence or weapons of any kind. All that needed to happen was for the state legislatures to come together on Jan. 6 and object to the certification.”

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