Capitol Police officer died of natural causes after attack -medical examiner

Alonzo Simpson
April 20, 2021

Washington, D.C.'s chief medical examiner on Monday ruled that a Capitol Police officer died of natural causes following multiple strokes after the attack on the Capitol, a finding that will make it harder for prosecutors to charge anyone with his murder. And they later thought perhaps Sicknick may have ingested a chemical substance - possibly bear spray - that may have contributed to his death.

Two men - Julian Elie Khater of State College, Pa., and George Pierre Tanios of Morgantown, W.Va. - were arrested last month for allegedly spraying a chemical on Sicknick.

On Feb. 2, however, CNN reported investigators said it's unclear why Sicknick collapsed the night of the riots, but failed to find signs the officer "sustained any blunt force trauma", let alone by a fire extinguisher.

In February, Sicknick became only the fifth person in history to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda, a designation for those who are not elected officials, judges or military leaders. "Francisco J. Diaz, the medical examiner, said the autopsy found no evidence the 42-year-old officer suffered an allergic reaction to chemical irritants, which Diaz said would have caused Sicknick's throat to quickly seize", The Washington Post reports. The determination is likely to significantly inhibit the ability of federal prosecutors to bring homicide charges in Sicknick's death. He was interred at Arlington National Cemetery. After returning to his office around 10 p.m. that evening, the officer collapsed and was transported to a local hospital.

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The Capitol Police had previously said in a statement that Sicknick "was injured while physically engaging with protesters".

Sicknick died after defending the Capitol against the mob that stormed the building as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden's electoral win over Donald Trump.

During the riot, the Justice Department accuses Khater of having asked Tanios to "give me that bear s***", implying that it was a pepper-based bear spray.

Lawyers for the two men had no immediate comment Monday. He then raised his hand, aimed the canister at Sicknick and two other officers who were standing just a few feet away, and waved his arm from side to side, the agency said, citing video footage.

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