News and Commentary

Police Officer Dies After Responding To Capitol Riot
WASHINGTON DC, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES - 2021/01/06: Rioters clash with police trying to enter Capitol building through the front doors. Rioters broke windows and breached the Capitol building in an attempt to overthrow the results of the 2020 election. Police used batons and tear gas grenades to eventually disperse the crowd. Rioters used metal bars and tear gas as well against the police.
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Capitol Police said Thursday that an officer has died after he sustained injuries while responding to the Wednesday riots, which engulfed the Capitol building, sent lawmakers into hiding, and paused the electoral certification process for the afternoon. 

Officer Brian D. Sicknick, 42, who joined the force in 2008, was pronounced dead at a local hospital on Thursday evening after he sustained unspecified injuries while on-duty the day before, the United States Capitol Police said in a press release late Thursday.  

Sicknick, a member of the First Responder’s Unit, was “injured while physically engaging with protesters” while responding at the Capitol, said the department. Sicknick collapsed after returning to his division office and was taken to the hospital, where “he succumbed to his injuries.”

Two law enforcement sources reportedly told The New York Times earlier in the day that an unnamed officer had been struck with a fire extinguisher during the violence that unfolded at the Capitol. ABC News reports that the fire extinguisher attack has not been confirmed by law enforcement, who are still investigating the possibility. From ABC News: 

According to sources familiar with the matter, authorities currently believe that Sicknick’s death was driven by a medical condition. They are also vigorously investigating reports that he was attacked with a fire extinguisher or other item at the Capitol, sources said. So far, those reports of an attack have not been confirmed, and authorities are hoping to locate video or other imagery from the scene that can shed light on what led to Sicknick’s death.

“The entire USCP Department expresses its deepest sympathies to Officer Sicknick’s family and friends on their loss, and mourns the loss of a friend and colleague,” said the Capitol police department Thursday. 

Sicknick is the fifth person who has died in connection with the demonstrations and subsequent violent unrest.* One woman, 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, was shot by a plainclothes police officer while sticking her head through a guarded window frame leading to the Speaker’s Lobby of the Capitol building, reports The New York Times

Three other people died in what Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee referred to as medical emergencies amidst the unrest, but the circumstances of those deaths remain unclear. 

In the aftermath of the unprecedented attack on the Capitol, lawmakers have called on those in charge of the building’s security to resign. Among those who have agreed to resign, or already have resigned, include Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger, and House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving. 

Lawmakers have expressed shock at the loss of Sicknick and extended condolences to his family. 

“Sicknick performed his duty for the last time as he worked with other brave officers to defend the Capitol from dangerous insurrectionists. Our nation will not forget his sacrifice and life of service. May God bring comfort to his family,” said Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR).

“This is gut-wrenching news,” said Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE). “None of this should have happened. Melissa and I are praying for Officer Sicknick’s family and for the families of the four others who died. Our country aches for the families who mourn. Lord, have mercy.”

NPR, citing a source familiar with the matter, reports that Sicknick’s death will be investigated by the Department of Justice as a federal murder investigation.

*UPDATE (4/20/21): The Washington D.C. Medical Examiner has determined that Officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes after suffering two strokes. The chief medical examiner says “all that transpired” on January 6 played “a role in his condition.” Read more here: D.C. Medical Examiner: Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick Suffered Two Strokes, Died Of Natural Causes

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