Unsealed videos show Officer Brian Sicknick during riot
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington D.C., Wednesday released previously sealed footage of Officer Brian Sicknick defending the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The videos appear to show the scene where prosecutors say he was hit with a chemical spray, as well as the moments after he emerged from the struggle, as he poured water on his face in an apparent attempt to clear the chemical from his eyes.
The videos had been played in court proceedings related to the federal case against George Tanios and Julian Khater, both of whom are charged with conspiring to assault Sicknick. Due to the pandemic, press had been permitted only to listen to hearings where the videos were played and the government had previously opposed their public release. After media outlets, including CBS News, filed a motion for access to the videos, the government on Tuesday withdrew its opposition to their release.
In the videos released Wednesday, Sicknick can be seen standing at a police barricade near a crowd of rioters before some in the crowd attempt to remove the barrier. At this point, the government has argued in court filings, Sicknick was sprayed with a chemical spray.
Prosecutors said Khater can be heard saying, “Give me that bear s***,” and “They just f*****g sprayed me.” Khater is then shown holding a white can that appears to be chemical spray, which prosecutors said Khater sprayed toward officers.
In the videos, Sicknick is seen repeatedly pouring bottled water over his head, bending over with his hands on his knees and pacing with his hand covering his eyes. A different officer can be seen walking away from the crowd. She winces, covers her eyes and is guided toward another officer who pours water over her head.
“I got it right in the eyes,” she says.
Although Khater and Tanios were charged with assaulting Sicknick, neither have been charged in his death. Sicknick died of strokes just one day after defending the Capitol on January 6, according to the D.C. medical examiner’s office, which determined his manner of death to be “natural,” a classification that is used “when a disease alone causes death,” the medical examiner’s office said.
Capitol Police Inspector General Michael Bolton has cited multiple “deficiencies” in the department’s planning prior to the attacks. He testified before the House Administration Committee on April 15 and criticized the department’s “decontamination area,” apparently referring to their method for removing chemicals dispersed during riots.
“I was dismayed to see that our decon area, for decontamination, consisted of bringing cases of water to the officers,” Bolton said. “That’s not a decon area.”
The videos published Wednesday had initially been played during hearings to determine whether the men should be released as they await trial.
In a hearing Tuesday, the government argued that the men had planned ahead, and said they had purchased different sprays, including pepper and bear spray, prior to the attack on January 6.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gilead Light questioned why anyone would bring bear spray to D.C. “It’s an uncontested fact that there are no bears in downtown D.C.,” Light said.
Light cited the video when arguing that Khater, “walked straight up to three police officers and sprayed them directly in the face.”
Khater’s attorney argued the use of pepper spray at police was not premeditated, and was a “limited and isolated” event that was in response to Khater getting sprayed with chemical irritants by the police themselves.
“He was responding to just being sprayed seconds before,” Khater’s attorney said.
The judge has yet to rule on whether he will grant the release of either defendant pending trial. Another hearing on the detention issue is set for May 6th.