A Coachella Capitol Hill police officer was among those honored with a Congressional Gold Medal for protecting lawmakers during the Jan. 6 riots.
Officer Juan Lopez was part of a ceremony honoring officers Tuesday morning in Washington DC The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor Congress can bestow.
— US Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) December 6, 2022
Hundreds of Capitol Hill Police Officers, DC Metropolitan Police Officers and all responding officers that day received a medal.
You can watch the entire ceremony below (Courtesy of C-Span)
López was one of the officers who protected Congress when thousands of protesters stormed the Capitol. Among those he protected was local congressman Dr. Raúl Ruiz. Ruiz congratulated López on social media.
Words cannot express how incredibly proud I am of Coachella Officer Juan Lopez, who today received the Congressional Gold Medal as Capitol Police Officer who protected me and others from insurgent attacks on the Capitol and our Democracy. pic.twitter.com/dQ26erHADB
— Raúl Ruiz (@RepRaulRuizMD) December 6, 2022
More than 50 police officers from the United States Capitol and the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department were injured during the attack on the Capitol, and several USCP officers were hospitalized with serious injuries, including one fatality.
Lopez was pepper-sprayed by rioters six times while defending lawmakers.
Video from inside the Capitol showed Lopez struggling to contain a violent mob of rioters who erected heavy barricades and smashed windows as they forced their way into the building.
Hours after the riot, Ruiz highlighted López’s heroism on social media, taking a photo with him after the riot and discussing their story together.
Ruiz has been a mentor to Lopez since Lopez’s senior year of high school. After Lopez graduated from the University of California, Riverside, Lopez worked for Ruiz’s office.
A few weeks after his heroic actions, his hometown of Coachella honored him. Her family accepted the recognition on his behalf, as she worked 12- to 16-hour shifts for a brief period after the riots.