The notion that Officer Brian D. Sicknick died as a result of being sprayed by two men with bear spray has now been discredited. The two men who allegedly wielded the bear spray are on trial for assault. And it turns out it wasn't even bear spray.
The death of Officer Brian D. Sicknick was the formed the foundation for months of misinformation as regards the Capitol riot of Jan. 6. The delay in the release of the cause of death by the medical examiner's office facilitated the creation of assumptions that it was the rioters that caused Sicknick's death.
The initial narrative of Sicknick being "bludgeoned" by a fire extinguisher fell apart when it turned out that Sicknick had been back in his office after the riot, in touch with his family, and seemingly fine. That assumption was replaced by one in which Sicknick died due to a "chemical attack," perpetrated by two men with a canister of bear spray. The claim was that Sicknick was allergic to bear spray.
The medical examiner's office released the cause of death months after he passed, and we now know Officer Sicknick died of natural causes. But two men who had the canister of bear spray are still on trial for assault.
Now it turns out that the bear spray rumor is actually untrue. For one, if Sicknick was allergic to bear spray he would've had a visible reaction to that. But Chief Medical Examiner Francisco Diaz told The Washington Post there was no evidence of an allergic reaction, per an interview.
According to the Washington Times, federal prosecutors told the judge in the ongoing trial over Sicknick's death that it was not bear spray. It was more like pepper spray, or mace. The prosecution points to a video where defendant Julian Khater asked the other defendant, George Tanios, for bear spray.
"It does appear that the bear spray Mr. Khater was holding before the assault was not used during the actual assault," prosecutor Gilead Light said. "What was used was a smaller can."
The state of the situation both Khater and Tanios face is described in a recent piece over at American Greatness. The two were arrested back on March 14 with assault charges, including at least four counts of "deadly or dangerous weapon" charges and conspiracy to use the spray in question against law enforcement.
The article describes an uneven justice system where the defense has not been provided the same video resources being used against them by the prosecution. Instead they have to litigate over "limited seconds of evidence" being filter-fed out to them.
Officials are worried any released footage would cause people to plan another Capitol attack
"The Department has significant concerns with the release of any of its footage to defendants in the Capitol attack cases unless there are safeguards in place to prevent its copying and dissemination," Capitol Police General Counsel Thomas DiBiase said last month, per Politico.
"Our concern is that providing unfettered access to hours of extremely sensitive information to defendants who have already shown a desire to interfere with the democratic process will result in the layout, vulnerabilities and security weaknesses of the Capitol being collected, exposed and passed on to those who might wish to attack the Capitol again."
The American Greatness article itself details doubts from even the FBI Special Agent assigned to the case that either Tanios or Khater used the bear spray at all.
But that hasn't phased US Magistrate Judge Michael Aloi. His remarks suggest a bias against the defendants even before the evidence is allowed to play itself out in court.
In the initial March 22 detention hearing, Tanios lectured Julian Khater, saying "We also generally know that they were supporting the president who would not accept that he was defeated in an election. And so we have created this culture, radicalized by hate, and just refusal to really accept the result of a democratic process."
The trial is ongoing.