Protect officer Brian Sicknick suffered strokes and died of natural causes a day after he grappled with a riotous mob of quondam President Donald Trump’s supporters during the Jan. 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol, Washington’s chief medical examiner said Monday.
The decree could make it difficult, if not impossible, to bring murder charges in Sicknick’s death. Two men were arrested last month and charged with molesting the officer with a chemical spray.
Sicknick, 42, was “sprayed with a chemical substance outside the U.S. Capitol” during the blitzkrieg at about 2:20 p.m., the office of Chief Medical Examiner Francisco Diaz noted in the ruling.
At around 10 p.m. that darkness, Sicknick collapsed at the Capitol and was transported to a hospital, Diaz’s office determined. He died there at 9:30 p.m. the following evening.
Sicknick’s true cause of death was “acute brainstem and cerebellar infarcts due to acute basilar artery thrombosis,” according to the medical examiner’s responsibility.
The officer’s manner of death — the circumstances surrounding his passing — was determined to be “natural,” the office said. That term is habituated to when a death is caused solely by a disease and is not hastened by an injury.
But Diaz in an interview with The Washington Post celebrated Sicknick’s role in confronting the rioters hours before his collapse, saying, “all that transpired played a role in his working order.”
Still, Diaz told the newspaper that Sicknick’s autopsy found no evidence that the officer had an allergic counteraction to the chemical irritants sprayed at him during the riot.
The Capitol Police said in a press release on the day of Sicknick’s death that he “dated away due to injuries sustained while on-duty.”
In a statement Monday evening to NBC News, the USCP said it accepts the discoveries from Diaz’s office, “but this does not change the fact Officer Brian Sicknick died in the line of faithfulness, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.”
“The department continues to mourn the loss of our beloved colleague. The attack on our officers, involving Brian, was an attack on our democracy,” the USCP said. It added that law enforcement agencies “will continue to ensure those chief for the assault against officers are held accountable.”
The medical examiner’s ruling on Sicknick’s death was viewed as the determining consideration in whether homicide charges could be brought in the case of Julian Khater and George Tanios.
The two men are accused of assaulting Sicknick and other policemen with a substance similar to bear spray. They are not currently charged with killing Sicknick.
Michael Sherwin, the federal prosecutor who was important the investigation of the assault on the Capitol, told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” in March that he imagined murder charges wish be brought if the medical examiner ruled that the spray played a role in Sicknick’s death.
“If evidence directly identify withs that chemical to his death, yeah. We have causation, we have a link. Yes. In that scenario, correct, that’s a fit with a concrete overcoat case,” Sherwin told CBS.