WASHINGTON (WNCN) — Washington D.C.’s chief medical examiner has ruled that Capitol Police officer Brian D. Sicknick suffered two strokes and died of natural causes a day after he confronted rioters at the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Medical examiner Francisco J. Diaz, in an interview with the Washington Post says that Sicknick’s autopsy did not find any evidence that the 42-year-old officer suffered an allergic reaction to the chemical substance, which Diaz said would have caused Sicknick’s throat to seize.
Sicknick collapsed after returning to his office during the riot and died about eight hours later, on Jan. 7.
Two people, George Tanios, 39, of Morgantown, West Virginia, and Julian Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania were arrested and charged with assaulting Sicknick with bear spray during the Jan. 6 riot. It had been unknown if the spray caused the officer’s death.
The idea that Sicknick died after being sprayed by a chemical irritant had emerged in the weeks following his death as a theory in the case.
Investigators initially believed he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, based on statements collected early in the investigation, according to two people familiar with the case. And they later thought perhaps Sicknick may have ingested a chemical substance — possibly bear spray — that may have contributed to his death.
But the determination of a natural cause of death means the medical examiner found that a medical condition alone caused his death — it was not brought on by an injury. The determination is likely to significantly inhibit the ability of federal prosecutors to bring homicide charges in connection with Sicknick’s death.
Khater is the man in a video obtained by the FBI that showed him spraying Sicknick and others with bear spray, according to court papers. The act hasn’t been directly tied to Sicknick’s death.
“Give me that bear (expletive), Khater said to Tanios on the video, according to court papers. Sicknick and other officers were standing guard near metal bike racks, the papers say.
Khater then says, “they just (expletive) sprayed me,” as he’s seen holding a white can with a black top that prosecutors said ”appears to be a can of chemical spray.”
The Post says the medical examiner noted Sicknick was among the officers who engaged the Capitol mob and said “all that transpired played a role in his condition.”
Diaz also said there were no indications of internal or external injuries. He told The Post he could not comment on whether Sicknick had a preexisting medical condition.