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Police Officer Injured In Capitol Attack Was 'Amused and Angry' By GOP Lawmaker's Handshake Snub, Friend Says

·3 min read
Officer Michael Fanone & Rep. Andrew Clyde
Officer Michael Fanone & Rep. Andrew Clyde

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images; Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images From left: Michael Fanone and Rep. Andrew Clyde

A Metropolitan Police officer who was injured during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was shocked and "befuddled" on Wednesday, after a Republican congressman refused to shake his hand during an elevator ride together, his friend tells PEOPLE.

Officer Michael Fanone told The Washington Post that Rep. Andrew Clyde "turned away" from him during an awkward interaction inside an elevator at the Capitol building.

Fanone was "amused and angry all at once," according to former Rep. Denver Riggleman, who spoke with the officer after the incident.

Riggleman tells PEOPLE he became friends with Fanone after the Jan. 6 attack and spoke with him on the phone after the alleged incident, which made headlines Thursday and drew widespread criticism towards Clyde, 57, for ignoring the officer.

"It's hard to understand why elected representatives won't shake the hand of an individual who got dragged, beaten and had a heart attack while there to protect them," Riggleman says.

Fanone suffered the injuries while responding to the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in January by pro-Donald Trump rioters, which killed five people and injured scores of others.

Mike Fanone
Mike Fanone

Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty D.C. Metropolitan Police officer Mike Fanone

Fanone told the Post that he introduced himself to Clyde and told him about his injuries after the GOP lawmaker claimed he didn't know who Fanone was when he extended the handshake.

Clyde was one of 21 Republican lawmakers on Wednesday who voted against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to three officers, including Fanone, who responded to the Jan. 6 attack.

RELATED: Group of Republicans Vote Against Giving Congressional Gold Medals to Capitol Police

Fanone says he doesn't doubt Clyde knew who he was when he and U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn got inside the elevator with him.

"I simply extended my hand and said, 'How are you doing today, Congressman.' I knew immediately he recognized me by the way he reacted. He completely froze. He just stared at me," Fanone tells the Post.

When the Republican lawmaker did not reach out to accept the handshake, Fanone says he asked the congressman: "I'm sorry, you're not going to shake my hand?"

Fanone says Clyde then responded, saying, "I don't know who you are," which prompted the officer to introduce himself in detail.

Fanone says he told Clyde about suffering a concussion and a mild heart attack during the insurrection, but "his response was nothing."

"He turned away from me, pulled out his cellphone and started thumbing through the apps," Fanone said.

A spokesperson for Clyde did not respond to requests for comment by PEOPLE or the Post.

RELATED: ABC News Reporter Goes Viral for Asking Putin About His Silenced Critics: 'What Are You So Afraid Of?'

"It's horrific," Riggleman says. Other members of the Republican Party relayed their disgust over the reported incident.

"It really is crazy, but when you knowingly downplay something and then [you're] placed in the presence of a hero, it certainly can be awkward," Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, tells PEOPLE. "This isn't going away, so maybe just start telling the truth."

Kinzinger, 43, tweeted Wednesday that Clyde and the other Republican lawmakers' decision to vote against awarding Fanone and the other officers with medals was "shameful and embarrassing."

Kinzinger said he spoke with Fanone on Wednesday after the alleged handshake snub, as well. Riggleman tells PEOPLE he and Fanone plan to meet up and grab a drink together in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

"I don't think he's taking it as personally," Riggleman says, adding that Fanone had a "fatalistic humor" about the incident with Clyde and about other divisive comments made by Republican lawmakers in recent months, some of whom have tried to downplay the deadly insurrection.

"He still laughs," Riggleman says, "But he went through a very traumatic event."

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