Eugene Goodman, the Capitol police officer who led violent rioters away from lawmakers during the 6 January attack, has been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the US Senate.
The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, called the vote at the end of Friday’s impeachment proceedings, noting Goodman’s “foresight in the midst of chaos, and his willingness to make himself a target of the mob’s rage so that others might reach safety”.
The Senate voted to award Goodman the medal – the highest honor Congress can bestow – by unanimous consent, meaning there were no objections. The medal has traditionally been used to honor military officers for distinguished service.
Goodman was in the Senate chamber as Schumer spoke, and the entire Senate stood and turned toward him, giving him a standing ovation. He put his hand on his heart.
Goodman, who was promoted to acting deputy sergeant-at-arms for the Senate after his performance during the Capitol riot, has been in the chamber for much of the impeachment trial. As an armed mob of Trump supporters bore down on the Capitol, threatening lawmakers including Mike Pence, the former vice president, Goodman intercepted, engaging rioters and leading them away from the Senate chamber.
In new videos aired as part of House Democrats argument that former president Donald Trump incited the insurrection, Goodman was also shown leading the Republican senator Mitt Romney to safety as he unknowingly headed toward a location where the mob had gathered.
“I was very fortunate indeed that officer Goodman was there to get me in the right direction,” Romney told reporters on Wednesday. He said he was unaware until he saw the footage that Goodman had potentially saved his life.
A decorated army veteran who served from 2002 to 2006, Goodman, 40, is from Maryland. Last month, he escorted vice-president Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, to the inauguration ceremony.
“He is wholly deserving of the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress, and I’m glad the Senate acted quickly on our legislation to recognize the quick thinking and bravery of this great Marylander with a Congressional Gold Medal,” said Maryland senator Chris Van Hollen in a statement. “I urge my colleagues in the House to quickly follow suit.”
House leader Nancy Pelosi this week introduced plans to honor the officer.