Guess We’ll Never Know What Killed Brian Sicknick, It Will Just Be A Mystery!
US Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick died from injuries he sustained defending the Capitol from a violent MAGA mob. Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson might not consider those insurrectionists “scary" like Black Lives Matter protesters who are, you know, Black, but the mob killed a cop. That once mattered to Republicans.
Federal authorities arrested two men Sunday in connection with Sicknick's death. Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania and George Pierre Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, West Virginia, were charged with assaulting Sicknick with bear spray.
"Give me that bear s---," Khater allegedly said to Tanios on video recorded at the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol at 2:14 p.m., where Sicknick and other officers were standing guard behind metal bicycle racks, arrest papers say.
About nine minutes later, after Khater said he had been hit with bear spray, Khater is seen on video discharging a canister into the face of Sicknick and two other officers, arrest papers allege.
Khater and Tanios are charged with nine counts, including assaulting Sicknick and two other officers with a deadly weapon. They're also charged with civil disorder and obstruction of a congressional proceeding. They are not charged with killing Sicknick. That's because it's still unclear if his death was a homicide.
According to Capitol Police, Sicknick "was injured while physically engaging with protesters," and he collapsed in his office after returning from the riot.
Investigators determined that he did not die of blunt force trauma, people familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. After more than two months, no autopsy or toxicology report has been made public.
It's bizarre to witness a white cop's obvious murder treated this way. It's like Brian Sicknick is Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, or even George Floyd. Khater and Tanios are only facing up to 20 years in prison, which would normally have police unions across the country in fits.
But conservatives, including the police, have reacted to Sicknick's death entirely differently than previous cop killings. They've claimed the legitimate outrage that a cop was killed is somehow all part of an anti-MAGA narrative. These were often the very same people who blamed Black Lives Matter whenever a police officer was killed in the line of duty, because random thugs would never have even considered shooting a cop before public protests against police violence.
Last month, the pro-police blog Law Officer, which has spent the past year spreading questionable "information" about the death of George Floyd, downplayed the effects of bear spray when used to attack a cop.
Personally speaking, in my 30 years in law enforcement, I've been sprayed with everything from basic O.C. spray, to bear spray, to some crazy military stuff that I don't want any part in ever again. And by far, bear spray is pretty weak.
Putting my personal experiences aside, the medical research is also clear. The effects on humans who encounter O.C. spray are minimal and generally dissipate within 30 minutes. Practically every cop in America has had the privilege to be sprayed with it, whether in training or on duty. And existing research has yet to reveal a line of duty death being attributed to O.C. spray.
Yes, a cop is now arguing for the defense. Bear spray's no big thang. Last summer, cops declared Garbanzo bean cans lethal weapons.
We appreciate that Sicknick's family doesn't want his death politicized, but Sicknick was viciously attacked during a violent insurrection at the US Capitol. His death is inherently political. Besides, law enforcement almost always politicizes an officer's death.
The former White House occupant incited a mob that attacked the US Capitol in a deranged effort to block Congress from confirming Joe Biden's presidential victory. The violent criminals attacked almost 140 police officers, including Sicknick, with hammers, baseball bats, hockey sticks, crutches, flagpoles, and yes, bear spray. Now, Sicknick is dead. It's not disrespectful to demand that we connect the dots and hold people accountable. What dishonors Sicknick's memory is pretending the Capitol siege never happened.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."