Sicknick was attacked with bear spray during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. He later died.
Two men have been charged with assaulting U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick with bear spray, as federal authorities inch closer to identifying what may have caused the officer’s death following the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a violent mob loyal to former President Donald Trump.
Julian Khater, 32, and George Tanios, 39, were arrested Sunday. The FBI identified Khater as a man seen on video discharging canisters of the chemical irritant at Sicknick and other officers, according to an affidavit filed in federal court. He allegedly had retrieved that spray from a pack carried by Tanios, the court filing says.
Sicknick returned to Capitol Police headquarters later that day, when he collapsed and was admitted to the hospital. He died soon afterward, and his death became a rallying cry for lawmakers seeking justice for the attack on Congress.
But Sicknick’s cause of death has remained elusive. Capitol Police leaders have refused for weeks to disclose the status of his autopsy other than to classify it as a “line of duty” death. Early news reports that Sicknick was assaulted with a fire extinguisher and suffered blunt force trauma were later revealed to be untrue.
The absence of a homicide charge in Sicknick’s case more than two months after his death underscores the challenge facing investigators to prove a link between the bear spray assault and his death the following day.
Some experts have also said it could be difficult to ever make such a link to a level of certainty that would hold up in court, especially since police were also using chemical irritants to try to disperse the angry crowd.
Indeed, the affidavit an FBI agent submitted to obtain warrants to arrest Khater and Tanios says body-worn camera video from a Metropolitan Police lieutenant shows him spraying Khater after Khater unleashed spray on several officers, including Sicknick.
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