New York Daily News
Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes after fending off far-right rioters during the Jan. 6 attack, the D.C medical examiner ruled Monday, likely complicating any bid by prosecutors to bring homicide charges in his death.
Francisco Diaz, the medical examiner, said in a statement that an autopsy discovered no evidence that the 42-year-old officer’s death on Jan. 7 was the cause of injuries. Rather, Sicknick died from “acute brainstem and cerebellar infarcts” — medical jargon for strokes — caused by a blood clot in an artery supplying the brain, Diaz said.
It’s not clear from Diaz’s statement if the strokes were brought on by an underlying medical condition. However, the statement clarifies that the office only uses the term “natural” when “a disease alone causes death.”
Federal prosecutors have charged two alleged Jan. 6 attackers, George Tanios of West Virginia and Julian Khater of Pennsylvania, with using bear spray on Sicknick outside the Capitol.
The case against Tanios and Khater is the closest the feds have come to bringing charges in Sicknick’s death.
But Diaz’s conclusion that Sicknick died of natural causes — not an injury — is likely to hamper any attempts to charge either man with murder or manslaughter.
U.S. Capitol Police said the medical examiner’s conclusion doesn’t alter the bigger picture.
“This does not change the fact Officer Sicknick died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol,” the department said in a statement.
Sicknick, who was at first believed to have died from getting hit in the head by a fire extinguisher, collapsed after returning to his office in the midst of the chaos of Jan. 6. He died roughly eight hours later a hospital.
He was one of hundreds of officers who responded to the bloody Jan. 6 attack, which left four rioters dead and more than 140 cops wounded, some severely. Two officers who responded to the assault committed suicide days later.
Hundreds of insurrectionists have been charged with participating in the riot, which unfolded after former President Donald Trump told a crowd of supporters near the Capitol to march on the building and “fight like hell” to stop Congress from certifying his election loss. Many of the attackers have said they believed they were acting on Trump’s orders after he spent the months leading up to Jan. 6 pushing the false claim that Democrats rigged the 2020 election for President Biden.
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