Nancy Pelosi commemorates fallen officer Brian Sicknick

Two arrested for attacking Capitol officer Brian Sicknick with bear spray hours before his death

US Capitol Police have not released the medical examiner's report into the cause of death as they were ‘awaiting toxicology results’

Justin Vallejo
New York
Monday 15 March 2021 16:30
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Two men have been charged with the alleged assault of police officer Brian Sicknick, who later died following the Capitol riot in January, according to reports.

Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania and George Pierre Tanios, 39, of West Virginia, were arrested on Sunday and will appear in court today, The Washington Post reported.

The cause of death of Mr Sicknick is yet to be determined.

Citing arrest documents, the two were charged with nine counts of assault on multiple officers, plus civil disorder and obstructing a Congressional proceeding, after tipsters identified both from surveillance video images.

“Give me that bear s***,” Mr Khater allegedly said to Mr Tanios on video recorded at the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol at 2:14 pm, according to the reports.

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Mr Sicknick and other officers were standing guard behind metal bicycle racks at the terrace, with officers C Edwards and B Chapman also identified in the arrest papers.

Mr Khater is allegedly seen on video discharging a canister into the face of Mr Sicknick and the two other officers about nine minutes later.

The arrest documents say the two men grew up together in New Jersey, with Mr Khater working in State College Pennsylvania and Mr Tanios owning a business in Morgantown.

While original reports that Mr Sicknick was struck in the head by a fire extinguisher were used in the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, there was no official confirmation of the claims beyond anonymous sources first cited by The New York Times soon after his death.

Investigators began looking at whether there were any connections between a possible chemical assault on Mr Sicknick during the riot and the medical distress that led to his death, according to anonymous sources quoted by the Post.

Whether investigators can determine how Mr Sicknick died, and connect the cause to a specific event, will factor into whether anyone is criminally charged in connection with the death.

US Capitol Police said in a statement on 26 February the medical examiner's report was not yet complete as they were "awaiting toxicology results”.

“[We] continue to work with other government agencies regarding the death investigation," the statement said.

The mother of Brian Sicknick, meanwhile, has previously said her son died from a fatal stroke and not a blow to the head from a fire extinguisher as first reported.

In an interview with MailOnline, Gladys Sicknick said they were in the dark as to what may have caused the medical emergency.

“He wasn’t hit on the head no. We think he had a stroke, but we don’t know anything for sure,” she told the outlet. “We’d love to know what happened.”

On the same day as the Times’ reported that Mr Sicknick was rushed to hospital after the fire extinguisher attack, his brother told ProPublica that the two spoke after the riots: “He texted me last night and said, ‘I got pepper-sprayed twice,’ and he was in good shape.”

His father, Charles, told Reuters the same day his son “he had a blood clot on his brain and had a stroke … operating was not an option.”

While the official police statement is that Mr Sicknick “passed away due to injuries sustained while on duty”, no official cause of death has been released by the medical examiner.

The New York Times, the source of the anonymous fire extinguisher claim, has since updated its original story with the disclaimer:

“New information has emerged regarding the death of the Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick that questions the initial cause of his death provided by officials close to the Capitol Police.”

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