The chief medical examiner in Washington, DC has ruled that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died of ‘natural causes’ a day after the Capitol riot, despite previous statements that he had been beaten to death with a fire extinguisher.
Officer Brian Sicknick, who was one of the police officers at the Capitol on January 6, suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day later, according to a report by the district’s chief medical examiner, Francisco J. Diaz. The report, released on Monday, will make it more difficult for prosecutors to bring homicide charges against the two men accused of assaulting Sicknick with bear mace on Capitol grounds the day of the riot. Prior to the medical examiner’s report, it was widely stated that Sicknick died of causes directly related to the Capitol attack. Some officials have speculated an allergic reaction to the chemical irritants in the bear mace was the cause of death but Diaz told The Washington Post this week that there was no evidence of that, which would have caused Sicknick’s throat to close up.
He also said there was no indication of internal or external injury to Sicknick. In spite of this, Diaz points out the events of January 6th are not to be ruled out as a contributing factor in Sicknick’s death, adding “all that transpired played a role in his condition.” The two men charged in connection with the death of Officer Sicknick are Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, and George Pierre Tanios, 39, of West Virginia. They have been charged so far with conspiring to injure officers and assaulting federal officers among other crimes. They were seen on video taken at the Capitol riot passing a canister of what they refer to as “that bear sh*t” between them and Khater is later seen spraying the chemical into the face of Sicknick. When they were arrested, no autopsy had been completed and the exact cause of death was not known.
Sicknick had been sprayed with the chemical at approximately 2:20pm on January 6th and collapsed around 10pm that night. He passed away the following day. The Capitol Police issued a statement this week regarding the medical examiner’s findings. The statement read: “This does not change the fact Officer Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.” The Justice Department opened a federal murder investigation in the case of Officer Sicknick, and it is unclear how the new medical examiner’s findings will impact the future of the investigation and others related to the Capitol attack. A Justice Department official told NPR this week, “As in all the cases related to Jan. 6, the investigators will continue to evaluate the facts and evidence against the law and charge accordingly.”
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ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE SEATTLE TIMES