After initial false reports that a Capitol Police officer was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher prior to his death, the FBI is now operating on the theory that the officer may have been exposed to bear spray or similar nonlethal irritant, before he later died in a hospital.
Officer Brian Sicknick, whose mother believes he suffered a stroke, texted his brother Ken after he was injured.
"He texted me last night and said, ‘I got pepper-sprayed twice,’ and he was in good shape," Ken told ProPublica. "Apparently he collapsed in the Capitol and they resuscitated him using CPR."
Sicknick was later placed on a ventilator, passing away on Jan. 7 before his family could make it to the hospital to say their goodbyes. He was given the rare distinction of lying in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.
On January 8, The New York Times reported that a rioter hit Sicknick in the head with a fire extinguisher before he died. Three days later, the Times issued a correction, asserting: “Investigators have found little evidence to back up the attack with the fire extinguisher as the cause of death," and "increasingly suspect that a factor was Officer Sicknick being sprayed in the face by some sort of irritant, like mace or bear spray, the law enforcement official said.”
Now, according to the Times, the FBI has "pinpointed an assailant" seen on video who attacked several officers with bear spray, and discussed attacking officers with bear spray beforehand, according to an anonymous official.
Given the evidence available to investigators, prosecutors could be more likely to bring charges of assaulting an officer, rather than murder, in the case. But the death of Officer Sicknick, a 42-year-old Air National Guard veteran who served in Saudi Arabia and Kyrgyzstan, could increase the penalties that prosecutors could seek if they took such a case to court.
Irritants like bear spray, pepper spray and mace are considered to be nonlethal crowd control deterrents, but they can cause physical reactions that could create risks for people with underlying health conditions and disorientation that could lead to injury. -NYT
Two other officers who were working the day of the Capitol riot committed suicide, while 138 officers suffered various injuries ranging from bruises to fractures to concussions the Times adds, citing local police.
On Friday, six members of the Proud Boys - whose leader, Enrique Tarrio, was outed in January as a 'prolific' FBI snitch - were indicted by the Justice Department with "conspiracy to obstruct the certification of President Biden's electoral victory and to attack law enforcement," according to the report. The suspects were also accused of threatening a federal officer and entering the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon, including a wooden ax handle.
Federal prosecutors said that Louis Enrique Colon of Missouri, Felicia Konold and Cory Konold of Arizona, and William Chrestman, Christopher Kuehne and Ryan Ashlock of Kansas were part of a group of Proud Boys who traveled to Washington in order to “stop, delay, and hinder the congressional proceeding” on Jan. 6.
They did so after Enrique Tarrio, the self-described national chairman of the Proud Boys, identified in the indictment as Person One, said on social media that members should “turn out in record numbers” and “spread across downtown DC in smaller teams.” -NYT
Why didn't the Times mention that Tarrio was a 'prolific FBI snitch' according to court documents?
According to prosecutors, the Proud Boys coordinated their travel to DC and stayed together at an Airbnb rental near the Capitol. They are accused of working together to force their way through barriers and around the Capitol building, where they gained entry to the complex and traveled as a group, according to the indictment.
Tarrio, meanwhile, was barred by a judge from entering DC the day of the riot due to a prior arrest on vandalism and weapons charges, after a federal prosecutor requested that he be prohibited from attending.