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Capitol Police Officer Sicknick Died After Stroke

April 20, 2021 by Dan McCue
A memorial to Capitol Police Office Brian Sicknick, who died during last week's attack on the Capitol. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was injured while confronting rioters during the Jan. 6 insurrection, suffered a stroke and died from natural causes, the Washington, D.C., medical examiner’s office ruled Monday.

Investigators initially believed the 42-year-old officer was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, based on statements collected early in the investigation. It was later theorized that Sicknick may have ingested bear spray, and that the caustic chemical may have contributed to his death.

But the District of Columbia’s Chief Medical Examiner, Francisco J. Diaz, announced Monday that he determined Sicknick died of natural causes — in other words, a medical condition alone caused his death and it was not brought on by an injury.

In a statement, the U.S. Capitol Police said the medical examiner’s findings do not change the fact “Officer Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.

“The Department continues to mourn the loss of our beloved colleague. The attack on our officers, including Brian, was an attack on our democracy,” it said.

However, the determination is likely to significantly inhibit the ability of federal prosecutors to bring homicide charges in Sicknick’s death.

Federal prosecutors have charged two men with using bear spray on Sicknick during the Jan. 6 riot. The arrests of George Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, W.Va., and Julian Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, were the closest federal prosecutors have come to identifying and charging anyone associated with the five deaths that happened during and after the riot.

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. It came after Trump urged his supporters to “fight like hell” to overturn his defeat.

Sicknick was standing guard with other officers behind metal bicycle racks as the mob descended on the Capitol.

In February, he 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. He was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

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