News and Commentary

NYT Promoted Idea That Trump Loyalists Might Have Killed Capitol Police Officer. One Month Later, They Issue Significant Update.
Pedestrians walk by the outside The New York Times building where photographer Bill Cunningham worked on June 30, 2016 in New York City.
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Over the weekend, The New York Times, which had reported on January 8, two days after the breach of the U.S. Capitol, that Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick “died on Thursday from injuries he sustained after Trump loyalists who overtook the complex struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officials,” issued a significant update more than a month after the initial article, stating:

UPDATE: New information has emerged regarding the death of the Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick that questions the initial cause of his death provided by officials close to the Capitol Police.

Within the body of the original article this paragraph was added:

Law enforcement officials initially said Mr. Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher, but weeks later, police sources and investigators were at odds over whether he was hit. Medical experts have said he did not die of blunt force trauma, according to one law enforcement official.

“This was preceded by a separate New York Times report on Thursday, which added: ‘Investigators have found little evidence to back up the attack with the fire extinguisher as the cause of death, the official said. Instead, they 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,’” The Washington Examiner noted. “That report also states this development ‘has complicated efforts to arrest suspects in Officer Sicknick’s death, as both the police and rioters used spray in the siege. It is difficult to prove who sprayed irritant on Officer Sicknick.’”

Mediaite reported on Friday that the Times’ original claim had been utilized by House impeachment managers in their case against former President Trump:

“The insurrectionists killed a Capitol Police officer by striking him in the head with a fire extinguisher,” the House impeachment managers stated in their pretrial memo. The claim appears to have been based on reporting that came out in the aftermath of the attack. But other conflicting reports, including a new one from CNN regarding efforts to bring charges in his death, have challenged it. The claim from Democrats is based on a Jan. 8 story in the New York Times …

On January 11, The Washington Post editorial board, referencing an article in Newsweek, wrote, “There is no sugarcoating the criminal brutality both confronted; Officer Sicknick was pummeled by a rioter wielding a fire extinguisher, according to witnesses.”

As far back as January 8, Pro Publica reported of Sicknick’s family:

Last they had heard, Sicknick was in critical condition on a ventilator, according to family members who spoke to ProPublica. While some news reports had said an unnamed officer was in critical condition after being bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher, family members did not have details of his injuries. They say Sicknick had texted them Wednesday night to say that while he had been pepper-sprayed, he was in good spirits. The text arrived hours after a mob’s assault on the Capitol had left more than 50 officers injured and five people dead.

“He texted me last night and said, ‘I got pepper-sprayed twice,’ and he was in good shape,” said Ken Sicknick, his brother, as the family drove toward Washington. “Apparently he collapsed in the Capitol and they resuscitated him using CPR.”

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