U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes stemming from a stroke a day after the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office confirmed on Monday, ending speculation he was beaten to death by pro-Trump rioters.
Francisco J. Diaz, the chief medical examiner for Washington, D.C., told The Washington Post that Sicknick died Jan. 7 after suffering from two strokes. He did not suffer from an allergic reaction after being sprayed with chemical irritants as he engaged with rioters, Diaz said.
Two men are accused of assaulting Sicknick by spraying a chemical irritant—possibly bear mace—during the Capitol breach. But Diaz told the Post that there is no evidence suggesting that Sicknick suffered an allergic reaction to the irritants, saying that such a reaction would have caused the officer’s throat to close.
The examiner said he found no evidence of internal or external injuries but he added that “all that transpired played a role in his condition.” Diaz did not elaborate.
Sicknick, 42, collapsed and died hours after returning to the office on Jan. 7, Diaz said. Sicknik suffered two strokes at the base of his brain stem, the examiner continued, which was caused by a clot in an artery that provides blood to that part of his brain. It’s not clear whether Sicknick had a medical condition that would cause that.
With the development, prosecutors will likely have a much harder time in pursuing homicide charges related to Sicknick’s death.
Then-Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen stated on Jan. 8 that the officer died of “injuries he suffered defending the U.S. Capitol,” and added that an investigation was underway, while the Capitol Police said Sicknick died as he was “engaging with protesters.”
But days after the riots, The New York Times and other news outlets—citing anonymous sources—reported that Sicknick was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher. Those reports were updated weeks later to say that his cause of death, at the time, was not determined. The allegation that Sicknick was murdered by protesters was invoked numerous times during the Democrat-led impeachment against former President Donald Trump.
Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, and George Pierre Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, West Virginia, were charged with assaulting Sicknick with a chemical spray, officials said in March.
According to court documents, prosecutors said that Khater told Tanios to “give me that bear [expletive],” possibly referring to bear spray, which is a nonlethal deterrent designed to stop aggressive behavior in bears and other wildlife. The documents then stated that Khater is seen in a video spraying a canister into the face of Sicknick and other officers.
Sicknick’s mother in late February disputed the account that her son was beaten.
“He wasn’t hit on the head, no. We think he had a stroke, but we don’t know anything for sure,” Gladys Sicknick told the Daily Mail in an exclusive interview on Feb. 22. “We’d love to know what happened.”
The Epoch Times has contacted the D.C. Medical Examiner’s office for comment.