Two men charged with assaulting Capitol Police officer Sicknick with chemical spray

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Two men have been charged with assaulting fallen U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick on Jan. 6 after prosecutors say video evidence shows them dousing Sicknick and other law enforcement officers with a chemical spray outside the building, according to a report Monday.

But the suspects have not been charged with homicide, and prosecutors so far have not implicated anyone directly in causing Sicknick’s demise, as an official cause of death remains pending.

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Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, and George Pierre Tanios, 39 of Morgantown, West Virginia, were arrested Sunday and are expected to make a court appearance Monday, the Washington Post first reported.

Each faces nine counts, including assault with a deadly weapon against Sicknick, a second Capitol police officer identified in court documents as “C. Edwards,” and a D.C. Metropolitan Police officer identified as “B. Chapman.”

  • Image 1 of 3

    Julian Elie Khater is seen holding a white can with a black top that appears to be a can of chemical spray, according to prosecutors. (Source: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia criminal complaint)((Source: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia criminal complaint))

  • Image 2 of 3

    Julian Elie Khater, with his right arm in the air, appears to be holding a canister in his right hand and aiming it in the officers’ direction, prosecutors say. (Source: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia criminal complaint)((Source: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia criminal complaint))

  • Image 3 of 3

    A Metropolitan Police Department officer sprays Julian Elie Khater, prosecutors say. (Source: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia criminal complaint)((Source: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia criminal complaint))

Tipsters helped identify the two suspects using surveillance and body-camera images released by the FBI. According to charging documents, video shows Khater asking Tanios for a can of bear mace at 2:14 p.m. near the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol. About nine minutes later, Khater, who says he was struck with bear spray, is seen discharging a canister into the faces of Sicknick and the other officers.

The charging documents also reveal that Khater and Tanios grew up together in New Jersey, and that Khater had worked in State College, Pennsylvania, and Tanios owns a business in Morgantown, West Virginia.

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The investigation into Sicknick’s death remains ongoing, as the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has not released an official cause of death, and how exactly the officer died remains publicly unknown. Sicknick died at the hospital at approximately 9:30 p.m. the evening of Jan. 7. Lawmakers last month honored Sicknick, as his remains laid in honor in the Capitol Rotunda before a ceremonial send-off on the steps to Arlington National Cemetery, where he was interred.

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Media reports have been conflicting — unnamed law enforcement sources initially told outlets Sicknick was struck in the head by a fire extinguisher, while others speaking on condition of anonymity countered argued there was no immediate evidence showing that Sicknick suffered any blunt force trauma. Some have also suggested exposure to a chemical irritant could have played a role, and Sicknick’s eldest  brother, Ken Sicknick, said in an interview with Pro Publica that the officer suffered some sort of blot clot or stroke.

U.S. Capitol Police has said that Sicknick “passed away due to injuries sustained while on-duty.”  According to the department, he “was responding to the riots” on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol and “was injured while physically engaging with protesters.” He then “returned to his division office and collapsed” and was taken to a local hospital “where he succumbed to his injuries.” 

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