News & Politics

8 Gripping Details From Time’s Cover Story on DC Cop Michael Fanone

The narcotics officer was brutally injured during the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Time Magazine just released a new profile on Michael Fanone, the DC cop and narcotics officer who gained notoriety for his bravery in defending the US Capitol on January 6 (bodycam footage shows that he was tased, beaten with pipes, dragged down the Capitol steps, and threatened with his own gun)and for his continuing efforts to keep the day from being forgotten. The piece, written by Molly Ball, has harrowing details from the day of the attack, and explores Fanone’s own reckoning in its aftermath. Some things we learned about the DC native:

The first time he cried about the insurrection was at a Navy Yard wine bar.

Out at a bar with two of his cop friends, looking to meet some girls, Fanone broke down watching the footage of him being attacked by the insurrectionists on CNN. It was the first time he’d watched the footage with other people and seen their reactions to what he had gone through.

He suffered a heart attack during the incident

After his partner, Jimmy Albright, realized Fanone had been tased multiple times at the back of his neck, Albright took him to the ER for evaluation; he was initially denied entrance for not wearing a mask, then collapsed. Doctors found high levels of troponin, a chemical indicating cardiac distress, in his body, and concluded he had suffered a heart attack that day.

He called CNN from his hospital bed. 

While Fanone recovered, he dialed the cable news channel to complain about its coverage of the police response to the insurrection. Fanone “told the woman who answered that Mike Fanone with the metropolitan police department needed to talk right away to that jerk on the air who was insulting the good name of every police officer.” The woman on the line told him, “Sir, this is the front desk.”

He turned down a request to pose nude in Playgirl.

When Fanone began publicly talking about the insurrection, support via email and letters flowed in by the thousands. Folk singer Joan Baez made an oil painting of his face, and Fanone turned down an offer to pose nude in Playgirl magazine.

He went to Georgetown Prep for a year.

Fanone attended the private North Bethesda boys school that is alma mater to Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. He stayed for a year, then went to a Maine boarding school. He eventually graduated from Southeast DC’s Ballou high school.

His original January 6 plans involved a heroin buy.

Fanone, a narcotics officer, was set to go to Southwest DC and meet an informant for an undercover heroin buy. Around noon, he scotched those plans, headed to a police station, and volunteered to guard the Capitol.

He’s a former Trump supporter.

Fanone voted for Trump in 2016, as did Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died in the aftermath of the insurrection. Despite how awful January 6 was, Fanone says he’s “grateful” for the experience, as it opened his eyes to how dangerous Trump is. “The greatest trick in history was Donald Trump convincing redneck Americans that he somehow speaks for them,” Fanone says. “He will destroy this country simply for the sake of his ego, just because he can’t accept that he lost an election….What if I had not gone through [the insurrection]? I’d be the same dumbass that I was on Jan. 5. Not evil in my motivations. But ignorant to the truth.”

He remains on leave.

Fanone, a divorced father of four, now lives with his mother in Virginia and is still on mental-health leave from the police department. 

Don’t Miss Another Big Story—Get Our Weekend Newsletter

Our most popular stories of the week, sent every Saturday.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.