Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who helped defend the US Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, said that the riot could have "easily been a bloodbath" had it not been for the restraint shown by law enforcement.
In his first interview, given to the podcast 3 Brothers No Sense on Monday, Goodman broke his silence after more than a year to describe what it was like being chased by a violent pro-Trump mob determined to stop Joe Biden from becoming certified as president.
The incident, captured on a viral video, catapulted Goodman to fame after he was credited with protecting outgoing Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress who were in the Senate certifying Biden's victory. Video footage also showed that Goodman frantically warned Sen. Mitt Romney to take cover shortly before facing off against the rioters.
He has since escorted Vice President Kamala Harris at the inauguration and been on the cover of Time magazine.
Goodman, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, gave his firsthand account of what it was really like to be the lone cop being chased by an angry mob inside the Capitol.
Goodman said he had just come from the Rotunda inside the Capitol where other officers were present. When he came down the stairs, he said he was "confronted" by the mob, prompting him to go back up "where I had last seen help."
"I honestly didn't know that they were that far in the building," Goodman said of the mob that had broken into the Capitol. "They lock eyes on me right away, and just like that, I was in it."
Goodman said that while he was focused on safety and deescalation, there were members of the crowd who were "angry and screaming."
"You want to deescalate, but you want to survive first," he said. "I was just in go mode."
Goodman suggested that had law enforcement used "deadly force" against the rioters, the situation could have been far worse.
"I've heard stories of people [in the mob] being armed... officers were part of the riot group," Goodman said. "It could have easily been a bloodbath, so kudos to everyone there who showed a measure of restraint with regard to deadly force because it could have been bad. Really, really bad."
At least 85 people were charged with carrying or using a weapon during the Capitol riot, and a majority of them were accused of using objects to attack police.
Douglas Jensen, the man identified by prosecutors as leading the mob that chased Goodman up the flight of stairs, allegedly had a knife with a 3-inch blade in his pocket at the time. He is facing multiple felony charges and is in jail after violating the terms of his release last year.
Goodman also described grappling with his fame and popularity in the year that followed.
He recalled hearing from his fellow Capitol officer Harry Dunn — who publicly testified about enduring physical and verbal attacks during the riot — about how he had a drink thrown in his face when he was with his daughter.
"I have my ups and downs with the popularity," Goodman said on the podcast. "That's mostly why I haven't been doing any interviews, anything like that, because I just don't want any part of the negativity."