20 Apr 2021

Capitol riot police officer died of natural causes - medical examiner

12:49 pm on 20 April 2021

A Capitol Police officer died of natural causes following multiple strokes after rioters attacked the building, Washington DC's chief medical examiner has ruled

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

A mob storms the US Capitol where members of Congress were voting to certify President Joe Biden's victory. Photo: 2021 Getty Images

The medical examiner's office said 42-year-old officer Brian Sicknick died of multiple strokes the day after he was sprayed with a chemical outside the US Capitol while it was under siege.

The finding will make it harder for prosecutors to charge anyone with his murder.

Sicknick was one of hundreds of Capitol Police officers who battled supporters of former President Donald Trump on 6 January when they stormed the building in an attempt to stop Congress from formally certifying President Joe Biden's election victory.

This image released by the US Capitol Police (USCP) on January 8, 2021, shows USCP Officer Brian D. Sicknick. - Sicknick died from injuries sustained during the storming of the Capitol . Sicknick was reportedly struck in the head with a fire extinguisher

Photo: AFP

Sicknick was sprayed by rioters with a chemical substance around 2.20pm that day, and collapsed around 10pm. He died the following day at a local hospital.

Two men, George Tanios and Julian Khater, are facing charges they assaulted three police officers, including Sicknick, by spraying them with a chemical irritant.

The city said it described the manner of death as "natural" in cases in which a disease alone causes death. If death was "hastened by an injury," then the manner of death was not deemed natural, it said.

The findings by the medical examiner mean it will be hard for federal prosecutors to bring homicide charges in connection with Sicknick's death.

The Washington Post first reported the medical examiner's ruling.

Citing an interview with medical examiner Francisco Diaz, the newspaper said the autopsy found no evidence that Sicknick suffered from any sort of allergic reaction to the chemical spray he was exposed to, nor was there any evidence of internal or external injuries.

- Reuters