Washington, DC

The man who sprayed a police officer with pepper spray on January 6 was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison

Joseph Godwin

One day following the Capitol disturbance, Officer Brian D. Sicknick passed away. A second man who had been initially accused of the assault received a time-served sentence.

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This is not the actual photo of the scene. This is used to illustrate the concept behind this trend.Photo byKoshu KuniionUnsplash

A New Jersey man who admitted to spraying pepper spray into the face of Officer Brian D. Sicknick on January 6, 2021, as the Capitol was being stormed was given a sentence of nearly seven years in jail on Friday in front of a sea of uniformed police officers.

One of the heartbreaking incidents involving Officer Sicknick, who passed away one day after being pepper sprayed in the riot outside the Capitol, was put to rest with the 80-month sentence given to the man, Julian Khater.

George Tanios, a second suspect in the assault, was sentenced to time served during the same hearing after spending five months in custody while his case was being heard in court. After the prosecution agreed to dismiss an assault allegation against Mr. Tanios, he entered a guilty plea to lesser charges in July.

Early reports claimed that Officer Sicknick died from his wounds; however, an investigation later revealed that he passed away from natural causes after having multiple strokes unrelated to the violent pro-Trump riot. Nevertheless, the medical examiner in Washington found that Officer Sicknick had interacted with rioters on January 6 and that "all that transpired played a role in his condition," according to court documents filed by the prosecution.

Around 50 of Officer Sicknick's colleagues from the U.S. Capitol Police attended the sentencing hearing in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., which was so large that several dozen of them were asked to move to an overflow room. Several members of Officer Sicknick's family gave moving statements during the hearing as well.

Gladys Sicknick, the mother of Officer Sicknick, complained to Mr. Khater that her son had been pursued "like a dog," and that whatever punishment he received was "not enough in my eyes."

Additionally, Mrs. Sicknick had harsh words for the larger group of rioters who had besieged the Capitol.

“All of you bear responsibility for the injuries sustained by Brian’s fellow officers, the broken bones, head trauma, and the continuing mental anguish they suffer and will endure for the rest of their lives. Imagine the emotional pain that would cause someone to take his own life. Four officers committed suicide. You and your ‘movement’ caused their deaths,” she said.

Judge Thomas F. Hogan heard statements from Officer Caroline Edwards, who was injured in the same attack and testified about it to congressional investigators. Officer Edwards testified about her injury and the incident she was involved in.

“Sometimes when I close my eyes I can still see his face, white as a sheet. I would give anything to take the pain away from the Sicknick family and my fellow officers,” Officer Edwards told of Officer Sicknick.

Mr. Khater was given one of the worst punishments out of the 950 suspects in the Capitol attack. Prisoners guilty of assaulting police officers have received the worst sentences, ranging from 7.5 to 10 years.

Officer Sicknick was hit with chemical spray near a turning point in the conflict when the mob overran the police at the bike rack barriers on the west side of the Capitol.

In court records presented ahead of the hearing, Mr. Khater stated that he had no intention of going into the Capitol on January 6 and had traveled there as a result of Mr. Tanios' encouragement to accompany him to a demonstration for President Donald J. Trump. Mr. Tanios, a native of West Virginia, later admitted that he had bought two bear spray cans and two canisters of a weaker pepper spray before traveling to Washington, but he said that he had done so only for self-defense.

Officer Sicknick was among the three police officers against whom Mr. Khater admitted using pepper spray in his paperwork, but he said that he had merely reacted out of "anxiety" in "a dangerous and chaotic atmosphere."

Mr. Khater told Judge Hogan that his 684 days in jail had been "a long, agonizing, but humbling experience."

“What happened on Jan. 6. There’s no words for it. It’s unfortunate, and I wish I could take it all back,” he said.

Judge Hogan stated his confusion with Mr. Khater's decision to join the mob and attack officers who posed no threat to him immediately before handing down his punishment.

“It just does not compute with me, this type of activity, and people thinking they can do this because they disagreed with the results of the election,” he said.

Reference:

Alan Feuer and Zach Montague, The New York Times, (2023 January 27th). "Man Who Shot Pepper Spray at Officer on Jan. 6 Gets Nearly 7 Years in Prison": Officer Brian D. Sicknick died a day after the Capitol riot. Another man initially charged in the assault was sentenced to time served.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/27/us/politics/brian-sicknick-julian-khater-george-tanios-jan-6.html?smid=url-share

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