Capitol Police Officer mulled shooting Kyle Fitzsimons, but clubbed him instead

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Kyle Fitzsimons, inset, has elected to have a bench rather than jury trial over his role in the Capitol unrest of Jan. 6, 2021. (inset photo/Courtesy; Background photo/AP News)

WASHINGTON - The trial of a Lebanon, Maine, man indicted in the Jan. 6 Capitol unrest continued on Wednesday with the prosecution's star witness, a sergeant in the Capitol Police force who identified the man as the one who caused his left shoulder permanent damage that ended his career.

Kyle Fitzsimons, 38, of Gully Oven Road, Lebanon, wearing orange jail garb and expressionless, sat across the courtroom as Capitol Police Officer Aquilino Gonell testified that it was the defendant who yanked at his shield and pulled him to the ground before trying to drag him into the crowd.

"It was the worst pain in my life." said Gonell, a native of the Dominican Republic, who came to America, later serving in Afghanistan as a member of the armed forces before being hired as a Capitol police officer 16 years ago.

Gonnel said after being pulled to the ground he feared he would be pulled into the crowd and beaten to death. He said he considered pulling his weapon out and shooting Fitzsimons, but instead hit him twice with his baton, prompting Fitzsimons to let go and drift back into the crowd and out of sight.

Attorney Natasha Taylor-Smith, Fitzsimons' public defender, asked Gonnel how he could be so sure it was her client amid the mass of humanity that swarmed the Capitol's southwest tunnel.

"He was the only one with a white coat," Gonnel said. "It was him."

The prosecution also showed body camera footage, including video and stills, which show what appears to be Fitzsimons grappling with security officers, however it is difficult to determine precisely who is doing what to whom.

During cross-examination, Taylor-Smith tried to establish Gonnel as profit-motivated as he admitted he had been paid money for at least two interviews, including one by CNN.

Tayior-Smith also asked Gonnel repeatedly how he could possibly be so certain it was Fitzsimons who fought with him in such a frenetic assemblage of protesters.

Also testifying on Wednesday was Rochester Voice editor Harrison Thorp, who recounted how he sought out an interview with Fitzsimons after he heard he had spoken on a conference call with Lebanon's selectboard during which he gave his account of what happened to him on Jan. 6, 2021.

The Voice's article as well as the body camera stills and video were entered into as evidence exhibits by the prosecution.

Others from Lebanon testifying for the prosecution were Bettie Harris-Howard and Deborah Dorey Wilson.

Fitzsimons opted for a bench trial in June.

One witness that may possibly be called by the defense is General Counsel of the DC Capitol Police, who in defense documents is said to have documents regarding alleged complaints against a against Gonell."

In her petition to enforce a subpoena Taylor-Smith states, "the complaints against Sergeant Gonell are necessary to demonstrate Sergeant Gonell's bias in favor of the government."
In Taylor-Smith's subpoena petition she notes that, "Evidence going to a witnesses' capacity of truthfulness or bias is always relevant."
Fitzsimons, has been held at the DC Central Detention Facility since late March 2021.
H was arrested on Feb. 4, 2021, at his Gully Oven Road home.

A bench trial is similar to a jury trial in most respects, but in this case the judge will determine whether the prosecutors have sufficiently proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

A superceding indictment filed in May accuses Fitzsimons of "using a dangerous or deadly weapon on certain officers" in that he "did forcibly resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, interfere and use a dangerous or deadly weapon on an officer and employee of the United States ... an officer from the Metropolitan Police Department."
The original 10-count indictment filed against Fitzsimons in February 2021 alleges the husband, father of one and former Hannaford butcher with obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building or grounds, act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings, two counts of civil disorder and two counts of inflicting bodily injury on certain officers.
Fizsimons pleaded not guilty on all charges during an April 2021 arraignment, which came more than 10 weeks after his arrest in Lebanon.

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